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famoujS american ^ongis 

Sumom :amertean 

Kuxbta of ^be Hotie? of <i3ceat Compo^et^ 

C{)oma0 p. Crotoell & Co, 
J13eto Pork 

Copyright, 1905 and 1906 

By The Butterick Publishing Co. (Limited) 

Copyright, 1906, by Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. 

Published September, 1906 

Composition and electrotype plates by 
D. B. Updike, The Merrymount Press, Boston 

Co mp lister 
31sa6ella 9^. mhU 



Cable of Contents 




Home, Sweet Home 


Old Folks at Home 




Ben Bolt 


The Star-Spangled Banner 


Yankee Doodle, Hail Columbia and 



Some War Songs 


JList of 3mstvations 


The Payne cottage at Easthampton, Long 
Island, immortalized in "Home, Sweet 

Home Frontispiece 

John Howard Payne Facing 4 

Miss A. Maria Tree, the first person who 
sang "Home, Sweet Home" 26 

Facsimile of an author's copy of " Home, 
Sweet Home" 30 

Stephen Collins Foster 36 

Christy, the famous minstrel who first 
sang "Old Folks at Home" 40 

The Foster homestead, near Pittsburg 46 

Daniel Decatur Emmett 60 

"Dan" Emmett, in old age 66 

The Emmett cottage at Mount Vernon, 
Ohio 70 

Facsimile of an author's copy of " Dixie" 76 

Thomas Dunn English, about 1845 82 

Thomas Dunn English, in old age 90 

Facsimile of an author's copy of "Ben 
Bolt" 96 

JLijSt of 3IUU)Stmtionj5 

Francis Scott Key 102 

Key's grave at Frederick, Maryland, over 
which the flag floats 106 

The Star-Spangled Banner which inspired 
the song 112 

Fort McHenry, Baltimore 118 

"Yankee Doodle." From the painting by 
A. M. Willard 138 

Francis Hopkinson 142 

Samuel Francis Smith Z48 

John Brown 156 

Julia Ward Howe 160 


ANY are the songs that are 
popular — for a while. Every 
spring the music publishers 
are on the lookout for the 
song-hit of the coming summer. But 
apparently it is destined to live only 
through that summer, if that long. It 
disappears as completely as if it had 
never been written. Another and an- 
other takes its place. They are fleeting 
fancies which, for a while, tickle the 
ear without reaching the heart of the 

To sink deep into the affections of a 
nation, to be caught up eagerly not 
only by those who first hear it, but also 
by those who come after, and thus 
to be handed down as part of the 
popular inheritance, a song must ap- 
peal in a direct, simple and sponta- 
neous way to some sentiment that 
is common to all humanity,— love of 



home, of mother, of country. That is 
one universal characteristic of the 
songs which live on from generation to 
generation. And there is another. It is 
their freedom from immoral sugges- 
tion. The "common people," as we are 
pleased to call them, reject with one 
accord whatever is coarse or impure. 
The *' topical song" of to-day, with its 
suggestive lines, will be forgotten to- 
morrow, because the "common peo- 
ple " decline to give it vogue. The words 
of our folk-songs may be common- 
place, but otherwise they are wholly 
unobjectionable; and the melody of a 
popular song that lives, though simple, 
never is trivial. 

This attitude on the part of the peo- 
ple goes far to explain the seemingly 
singular fact that comparatively few 
popular songs, which have survived, 
celebrate the love affairs of young men 
and women. There seems a reluctance 
to accept such songs permanently, as 
if there were something immodest in 



proclaiming sentiments that should 
be whispered in the ear of only one per- 
son. The folk-songs- that have gained 
the strongest hold are those which 
voice a vague regret for something 
once dear and still fondly remembered. 
Judging by comparative popularity, 
I should say that the sentiment most 
deeply implanted in the human heart 
is love of home. In times of great ex- 
citement, especially when war is immi- 
nent or in progress, this sentiment may 
be replaced by patriotism. But the old 
home feeling returns sooner or later. 
Probably the most widely known song 
wherever the English tongue is spoken 
is "Home, Sweet Home;" while "Old 
Folks at Home" is a close second. 
That these songs strike a chord com- 
mon to humanity is shown by the fur- 
ther fact that they are sung on the Con- 
tinent also. Stephen Collins Foster's 
touching little "plantation melody" 
has been adapted even to several Asia- 
tic tongues. Some of the greatest sing- 



ers have not disdained to include these 
songs in their repertories. Jenny Lind 
sang "Home, Sweet Home;" I often 
have heard Patti sing it; and I well 
remember how charmingly Christine 
Nilsson sang "Old Folks at Home." 
Excepting one or two Scotch tunes 
which have the characteristic "Scotch 
snap" (an accentuation that admits of 
some fascinating by-play on the sing- 
er's part), I do not know of any popular 
songsthat have been similarly honored. 
A curious and highly interesting dif- 
ference may be discovered between the 
origin of the folk-songs of old coun- 
tries and the popular songs of our own 
land. Most of the foreign songs seem 
to have sprung up from the people; 
many of them are very old, and their 
composers are unknown. They "just 
growed;" and, indeed, the whole idea 
of a folk-song seems to preclude any- 
thing like formality in its origin. Yet 
the majority of American popular 
songs were deliberately composed, 



copyrighted and published, and as if 
to make even a single exception to 
this rule impossible, it happens that 
the melody to which "Home, Sweet 
Home" afterwards was set, was pub- 
lished under copyright protection in 
England early in the last century. 
Nevertheless there is nothing formal 
aboutthesound or effect of these Amer- 
ican songs. Their appeal to the pop- 
ular heart was immediate, and they 
travelled across seas, as if by "wire- 
less," years before Marconi was born. 
To-day the American "coon" or "rag- 
time" song, however ephemeral, is 
heard in England and on the Conti- 
nent almost as soon as here. What 
Europe has sent us by way of ex- 
change in popular songs during all 
these years is almost nil. 
Another characteristic, and perhaps 
the most singular one, of American 
popular songs is that most of them have 
been written for the stage. "Home, 
Sweet Home" was heard first on the 



stage of the Covent Garden Theatre, 
London. "Old Folks at Home," and in 
fact most of the other songs by Stephen 
Collins Foster, was written for the 
Christy minstrels. "Dixie" was origi- 
nally a walk-around for Dan Bryant's 
minstrel troupe ; and so the story con- 
tinues to the present day, our popular 
songs still being written and composed 
with an eye and an ear for stage pro- 
duction. These are the so-called "in- 
terpolated" songs of comic opera. In- 
deed the function of the average comic 
opera composer seems reduced to sup- 
plying a background of choruses, 
duets and finales. The manager then 
arranges with some popular song 
writers and composers for two or three 
numbers, which are counted on to 
make the " hi ts " of the piece. Whether 
any of these will retain their vogue 
long enough to become what I may call 
standard popular songs— be perma- 
nently assured of a place in the hearts 
of the people — still remains to be seen. 

i^ome^ ^toeet l^ome 


The world has literally sung my song un- 
til every heart is familiar with its me- 
lody, yet I have been a wanderer since 
my boyhood : John Howard Payne 

N the evening of May 8, 1823, 
at the Theatre Royal, Covent 
Garden, London, Miss Maria 
Tree, a sister of the famous 
actress, Ellen Tree, gave voice to a 
song which thrilled the audience and 
since has reechoed in every heart in 
the English-speaking world as the 
song that better than any other ex- 
presses the sentiment of "home." The 
occasion was the first performance of 
"Clari, the Maid of Milan," a play by 
John Howard Payne, with musical 
numbers by Henry Rowley Bishop, and 
the song was "Home, Sweet Home " 
It was characteristic of the "homeless 
bard of home," that he was living in 
Paris, that his song was heard first in 
London, while the home he sang of was 


jfamoug american ^ongg 

a little cottage in Easthampton, Long 
Island) in which he had not set foot 
since boyhood. It also was character- 
istic of his fate that although "Home, 
Sweet Home" won a wealthy husband 
for the singer, and earned a small for- 
tune for the theatre and the publisher, 
it left Payne little or no better off than 
he had been before. The song had that 
valuable theatrical quality profession- 
ally known as "thrills," but these did 
not extend to the author's pocket- 
book. He had sold "Clari" for a lump 
sum, had no interest in the publishing 
rights; while as to fame — the publisher 
did not even think it worth while to 
put Payne's name on the title-page! 

It is said sometimes that Bishop's 
melody, not Payne's words, has given 
"Home, Sweet Home" its vogue. That 
argument can easily be disposed of. 
The melody was not new. Bishop had 
used it several years before as a "Si- 
cilian air" in a book of "Melodies of 
Various Nations," where he had set it 


l^ome, ^toeet l$omt 

to words by Thomas Haynes Bayly, 
beginning "To the home of my child- 
hood in sorrow I came." This was a 
"home" song; a leading London pub- 
lishing house, Goulding, D'Almaine, 
Potter & Co., brought out the book 
under the distinguished patronage of 
H. R. H. The Duchess of Gloucester, 
the Princess Sophia, and others ; but 
the melody then failed to carry the 
song into every heart which it did 
when set to Payne's words. For every 
person who has heard of "To the 
Home of my Childhood" a million 
know "Home, Sweet Home." But for 
Payne's lines the tune would have 
been forgotten long ago. Together 
they make a simple, direct appeal to 
one of the most universal sentiments 
in the human breast. Each needs the 
other. They go hand in hand, words 
and music, — the song and the soul of 
the song. Therefore, why endeavor to 
draw fine distinctions between the re- 
spective merits of Payne's lyric and 


{ffamoug amertcan ^ongjEi 

Bishop's air? In happy union they have 
survived the vicissitudes of more than 
seventy-five years. They seem de- 
stined for immortaHty. Whole libraries 
of intellectual volumes have been for- 
gotten, tons of vocal scores have been 
sold for waste paper. The same pro- 
cess of elimination will continue, leav- 
ing one book, one score out of thou- 
sands to survive. But a simple little 
poem by a homesick American and set 
to music by a second-rate English com- 
poser, lives on, because, forsooth, the 
author let us know that he was home- 
sick by describing that longing which 
every one of us has experienced at 
some moment in his life. After all, the 
literature which attracts us most is 
that in which we ourselves are repro- 
duced, just as in a picture gallery in 
which our own portrait is hung we look 
for that first. Because the words of 
"Home, Sweet Home" echo, and its 
music reechoes, a sentiment that is at 
once touching and universal, words 

l$omt, ^t^eet l^ome 

and music united form that rare thing, 
the popular song that survives. After 
the elect have settled upon the great 
names in literature and music, the 
lowly reach out for their own. 
To the general public John Howard 
Payne is known only through his fa- 
mous poem. There may be a vague im- 
pression that his life was one of many 
vicissitudes; that his fortunes often 
were at a low ebb ; that the poet who 
sang so tenderly of home was for many 
years an exile; that he died in a foreign 
land; and that, even after death, his 
wandering did not cease, his remains 
having been transferred many years 
later from what was to have been his 
last resting-place to a grave in his na- 
tive land. But how many people are 
aware that for many years, and despite 
his ups-and-downs, Payne was a pro- 
minent figure on the stage both as 
actor and playwright, and the first 
American to make a reputation abroad 
in either capacity? He was the author 


ifamoujs american ^ongis 

of the tragedy of "Brutus," which Ed- 
mund Kean produced in London with 
great success, which was a favorite 
piece with Edwin Forrest, and which, 
remodelled, might even to-day be ta- 
ken into a tragedian's repertory — if 
there is a tragedian. The last person 
I saw act it was the late John Mc- 
Cullough. All told, Payne wrote and 
adapted about fifty pieces for the stage 
and he was the author of other poems 
besides **Home, Sweet Home." As an 
actor he was the first youthful prodigy 
this country produced, — "the young 
American Roscius," — and one of the 
sad features of his career was that 
" Mr." Payne could not sustain the re- 
putation made by "Master" Payne. 
The Paynes are of old American stock. 
John Howard Payne's direct ances- 
tors were among the earliest settlers 
at Eastham, Massachusetts, where 
the name appears as far back as 1622. 
Robert Treat Paine, a signer of the 
Declaration of Independence, in spite 

1$omty ^tpeet l^ome 

of the slight difference in the spelling 
of his name, belonged to the same fa- 
mily. William Payne, the poet's father, 
was a tutor in several wealthy Boston 
families. He married twice. His first 
wife, who died soon after marriage, was 
a Miss Lucy Taylor, whom he met at 
Barnstable. Then he married Sarah 
Isaacs, whose father was a convert 
from the Jewish faith and who resided 
in Easthampton, New York. There the 
elder Payne settled and was made 
principal of Clinton Academy, erected 
by Governor DeWitt Clinton. John 
Howard Payne was born of this se- 
cond marriage on June 9, 1791, in New 
York ; but the greater part of his early 
childhood was spent in the picturesque 
Long Island town, which made an in- 
delible impression on his memory. The 
house in which the Paynes lived and 
which thepoetimmortalizedin"Home, 
Sweet Home" still stands. 
William Payne was an admirable 
elocutionist, and this gift, descending 


famous american ^ongg 

to the son, took the turn of a passion 
for the stage. This passion became so 
manifest that his parents in alarm sent 
him to New York to clerk it, hoping 
that this prosaic occupation would 
crush his theatrical ambition. But this 
would not down. H e spent all the money 
he could spare on the theatre and also 
started a dramatic paper, "The Thes- 
pian Mirror." He was then but four- 
teen years old, yet the articles in the 
"Mirror" were so ably written that 
they attracted much attention and 
the "Evening Post" announced that 
it would reprint one of them. This 
alarmed Payne, who feared that it 
might result in his family's discover- 
ing what he was doing. Accordingly, 
he called on the editor of the "Post," 
William Coleman, who was amazed to 
find in the author of the article which 
had struck him so forcibly a mere boy. 
Payne was a handsome lad; and his 
talents, combined with the agreeable 
personal impression he had made, in- 

J^ome, ^tDeet J^ome 

duced Mr. Coleman to interest him- 
self in raising a fund, to which a Mr. 
Seaman, another warm admirer, con- 
tributed liberally, with the object of 
sending him to Union College, Sche- 
nectady, New York. He was taken 
there by Charles Brockden Brown, the 
novelist. His literary aspirations led 
him to start a college paper called 

"The Pastime," which became popu- 
lar with the students, and he was a 
mainstay in college theatricals, play- 
ing among other parts the female rdle 
of Lodoiska in "Pulaski." 

To go on the stage still was his domi- 
nant ambition, and events so shaped 
themselves that it was gratified. His 
mother died, and financial misfortune 
overtook his father. A stage ddbut, if 
successful, seemed to offer the quick- 
est means of the youth's becoming 
self-supporting, and William Payne 
withdrew his opposition. February 24, 
1809, before he was seventeen years 
old, John Howard Payne made his first 


jfamoug amertcan ^ongg 

appearance in public at the Park Thea- 
tre, New York, as Young Norval in 
Holmes's "Douglas." The character of 
the young Highlander, "who fed his 
flocks upon the Grampian Hill," was 
popular in those days, and even twenty 
years later Forrest selected it for his 
d^but. Payne's handsome locks, his 
lithe, agile figure, his mobile features, 
and his spontaneity made the event an 
immense success. On March 14, when 
he appeared as Hamlet, the house held 
fourteen hundred dollars. He played 
with similar success in Boston and 
Baltimore, where at his benefit seats 
sold as high as fifty dollars. 
In January, 1813, Payne sailed from 
New York to try his fortune on the 
English stage. The passage occupied 
twenty-two days. War was pending 
between the United States and Eng- 
land; and when the ship arrived at 
Liverpool, Payne was jailed for a fort- 
night before being allowed to proceed 
to London. Through Benjamin West, 

^omt, ^toeet !^ome 

President of the Royal Academy, he se- 
cured an engagement at Drury^Lane, 
where, June 4, 1813, Young Norval was 
played "by a Young Gentleman (be- 
ing his first appearance in London)." 
The young gentleman was Payne. He 
scored a success. Later he played Ro- 
meo, with James W. Wallack (after- 
wards the founder of Wallack's The- 
atre, New York, and the father of Les- 
ter Wallack) as the Prince. At Birming- 
ham, EUiston, the theatrical manager, 
played an amusing trick on Payne. 
Elliston's company was announced to 
appear in "Richard IIL"The manager 
was anxious that Payne should play 
the title role, but the young American 
declined. Elliston then asked Payne, 
on the plea of being very busy, to oblige 
him by taking charge of the rehearsal 
for a day, and persuaded him to this. 
Payne rehearsed the company long 
and arduously. He looked in vain for 
Elliston, who failed to put in an ap- 
pearance at the theatre. But imagine 


the young actor's surprise, after dis- 
missing the rehearsal and going out on 
the street, to find the city placarded 
with announcements of the perfor- 
mance, stating that Richard would 
be played by "the celebrated Ameri- 
can Roscius, Mr. Howard Payne"! Of 
course there was nothing left for the 
"celebrated American Roscius" to do 
but to submit and become the amused 
victim of EUiston's clever ruse. 
All told, Payne's career as an actor in 
England lasted five years out of the 
nineteen which elapsed before he re- 
turned to America. His last appear- 
ances were as Young Norval and Ham- 
let in Birmingham in May, 1818. When 
he retired he had played in England 
one hundred and six nights and acted 
twenty-two characters. But, as has 
been the unhappy experience of so 
many juvenile prodigies, he had lost 
that lack of self-consciousness and the 
attractive spontaneity which are the 
great charms of the youthful actor. He 

l^ome^ ^toeet l^ome 

had ceased to be a "Roscius." 

During his theatrical career in Eng- 
land he had formed a large circle of 
friends both on and off the stage. He 
knew most of the leading English ac- 
tors and actresses of note and many 
literary people. Talma, the most fa- 
mous French actor of his day, had been 
so attracted to him that, when he came 
to Paris, he secured for him the freedom 
of the Theatre Frangais. Among his 
friends inLondon were Coleridge,Shel- 
ley and Lamb, and, above all, Washing- 
ton Irving. Indeed a strong intimacy 
sprang up between Irving and Payne. 
The future author of "The Sketch- 
book" and the actor and playwright, 
who was to be remembered not by 
what he considered his great produc- 
tions, but by one short poem, had a 
"Box and Cox" arrangement between 
London and Paris. Engaging lodgings 
in both cities they exchanged them as 
circumstances required, Payne:remov- 
ing to the Paris rooms when Irving 


jTamoug amertcan ^ongg 

came to London, and vice versa. It is 
interesting to note that at this time 
Irving, whose work is in no wise as- 
sociated with the theatre, was coquet- 
ting with the stage. When Payne found 
it necessary to give up acting, his do- 
minant dramatic impulse led him to 
become a playwright. In Paris Irving 
would note the French successes and 
let his friend know of them or forward 
MSS. and printed copies to London, 
where Payne would adapt them. There 
is in the possession of Payne's collate- 
ral descendants a large batch of un- 
published letters from Irving in one of 
which he mentions a play he has writ- 
ten, asking Payne to submit it to one of 
his managerial friends, but to conceal 
the authorship. This was indeed so ef- 
fectually concealed that, if the play ever 
was produced, the fact is not known. 
Aspirations as a playwright certainly 
reveal Irving in a new light. 
Payne's first work for the stage was 
an adaptation entitled "The Maid and 

i^ome^ ^toeet J^ome 

the Magpie," for which he received one 
hundred and fifty pounds from the Cov- 
ent Garden management. His next ad- 
aptation, "Accusation," was produced 
at Drury Lane, with James W.Wallack 
in the leading role. So exact were the 
scene plots indicated by Payne and so 
detailed his hints regarding the stage 
"business" that the rehearsals occu- 
pied only ten days. His "Brutus" was 
produced by Edmund Kean at Drury 
Lane, December 3, 1818. It was staged 
by Payne himself and with scenery, pro- 
perties and costumes designed by him. 
After running twenty-three nights it 
had to give way to another piece which 
had been contracted for, but after- 
wards ran for fifty-three additional per- 
formances, seventy-six in all, — a long 
run in those days. Payne had intended 
to act the role of Titus himself, but this 
was vetoed by the management on the 
curious ground that an actor should 
not appear in his own play, — a theory 
which surely did not obtain in Shake- 


speare's day, and which, if in force now, 
would have prevented our seeing Wil- 
liam Gillette in ''Secret Service" or 
"Sherlock Holmes." 

Payne's was not the first play with 
Brutus for the title role and he was 
accused of plagiarism, although he 
had taken care to give credit to seve- 
ral authors for suggestions which he 
had utilized, quite an unusual instance 
of honesty on the part of a writer for 
the stage. His friend Irving promptly 
came to his defence. ''Why," wrote 
Irving, "Payne has given credit for 
his play to six authors from whom he 
has taken hints; but because he has 
included a seventh, from whom he has 
borrowed nothing, they have raised 
against him a hue and cry for plagia- 

An attempt at management on 
Payne's part, for which he engaged 
the Sadler's-Wells Theatre, followed. 
He was not a business man, and his 
brief experience as a manager landed 

I^ome, ^toeet l^ome 

him in the debtors' jail. There he re- 
ceived by chance from Paris a couple 
of plays. In one of these, "Therese, 
the Orphan of Geneva," he saw such 
great opportunities that in three days 
he had made an adaptation of it and 
sent it to Drury Lane, where it was 
rushed on the stage in less than a fort- 
night, Payne, in disguise, attending 
some of the rehearsals and the first 
night. James W. Wallack and the 
beautiful Miss Kelley took the lead- 
ing parts. 

The success of *'Therese" enabled 
Payne to pay his debts and get out of 
jail, and also led the rival management 
at Covent Garden to send him to Paris 
to watch for theatrical successes and 
make rapid adaptations of them. In 
October, 1822, he wrote from Paris to 
Henry Rowley Bishop, who was com- 
posing the music for Covent Garden 
pieces, stating that he would make 
three adaptations, "Ali Pacha," "The 
Two Galley Slaves" and "Clari," for 


two hundred and fifty pounds. This is 
the first mention of **Clari," one song 
in which was to make him famous. 
''Clari" really was more than an adap- 
tation. In its original form it was merely 
a ballet, from which Payne could not 
have derived more than the plot. In 
turning it into a play with songs and 
choruses (it was announced at Covent 
Garden as an "opera"), Payne wrote 
original dialogue and verses. Clari, the 
heroine, elopes with a duke, but is led 
to return to her parents by hearing a 
company of strolling players sing one 
of her native songs, which in Payne's 
version is "Home, Sweet Home." 
The poem as originally written is 
neither as simple nor as affecting as 
it became in "Clari." It seems to me 
that the original form of a lyric that 
is perhaps more widely known than 
any other in the English language is 
well worth giving. Here it is: 

'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, 
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home! 

^omt, ^toeet f ome 

A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there, 

(Like the love of a mother, 

Surpassing all other,) 
Even stronger than time, and more deep with despair. 

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain ! 
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again I 
The birds and the lambkins that came at my call, — 
Those who named me with pride, — 
Those who played by my side, — 
Give me them 1 with the innocence dearer than all ! 
The joys of the palaces through which I roam 
Only swell my heart's anguish. — There 's no place 
like Homel 

It will be seen that "Home, Sweet 
Home" became what it is, not by ela- 
boration, but by elimination. The ori- 
ginal lacked the familiar refrain, and 
while it contains many of the essen- 
tials of the poem as we know it now, 
does not make nearly so direct and 
strong an appeal as the shorter and 
much simplified version which, fortu- 
nately for himself and for us, Payne 
saw fit to make when he incorporated 

The "Home, Sweet Home" which 
became famous in a night, which has 
reechoed since in millions of hearts, 


famous american ^ongg 

and with which great singers Hke 
Jenny Lind and Patti have not dis- 
dained to move their audiences, I am 
able through the courtesy of the poet's 
grandnephew, Thatcher T. Payne Lu- 
quer, to give in John Howard Payne's 
own handwriting. The poem is as fol- 

'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, 
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like Homel 
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us tliere, 
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with 
elsewhere I 

Home, home! sweet, sweet Homel 

There's no place like Home! 

There's no place like Home ! 

An exile from Home, splendour dazzles in vain! — 
Oh, give me my lowly thatch'd cottage again ! — 
The birds singing gaily that came at my call — 
Give me them ! — and the peace of mind dearer than all 1 

Home, home 1 sweet, sweet Home 1 

There's no place like Home! 

There's no place like Home! 

Whether the melody really is a Sici- 
lian air or original with Bishop is a 
point which would require too much 
space to discuss here. I am inclined 
to believe it was original. There is a 


l^ome, ^toeet l^ome 

story that when Bishop was complet- 
ing the " Melodies of Various Nations" 
the publishers asked him to include a 
Sicilian air, and having none at hand, 
he composed the melody himself. This 
may well be true. No popular Sicilian 
air resembling it can be traced, and 
when Donizetti wanted a typical Eng- 
lish air for his "Anna Bolena" he se- 
lected** Home, Sweet Home." It hardly 
is credible that an Italian composer 
would not have recognized a popular 
song of his own country. 
The anecdote that Payne heard an 
Italian peasant girl singing the me- 
lody, jotted it down and sent it to 
Bishop, is a fabrication, based in part, 
it would appear, on a misquoted pas- 
sage from one of Payne's letters. What- 
ever maybe said pro or con, the fact re- 
mains that the air to which "Home, 
Sweet Home" is sung appeared, long 
before "Clari" was written and prob- 
ably before Payne and Bishop even 
were acquainted, in Bishop's "Melo- 


jfamoug amerfcan ^ongiei 

dies of Various Nations." Most likely 
when the composer read over ^Xlari," 
he perceived the adaptability of the air 
to the poem, and used it. Another bit 
of fiction regarding Payne is that he 
was living in a Paris garret when he 
wrote ''Home, Sweet Home." In point 
of fact he was busily engaged making 
adaptations, for which he received 
more than very fair prices for those 
days and he had comfortable lodg- 
ings. In fact, like many persons of 
artistic temperament, Payne did not 
know how to keep money and was apt 
to live somewhat better than he could 

Homesick, however, he was; and 
when he wrote his poem, he penned 
it from the depths of a longing heart. 
For about the time he was engaged on 
"Clari" he expressed his yearnings in 
a letter to his brother Thatcher: 

"My yearnings toward Home," he 
wrote, ''become stronger as the term 
of my exile lengthens. I long to see all 

I^ome, ^toeet l^ome 

your faces and hear all your voices. 
'T would do me good to be scolded by 
Lucy, and see Anna look pretty and 
simple and sentimental. . . . 

"I feel the want of some of you — 
parts of myself — in this strange world 
— for though I am naturalized to va- 
gabondium, still it is but vagabond- 
ism. I long for a Home about me." 

After the success of ^'Clari" he was 
in better spirits and wrote to Anna 
(in May, 1823), telling her that in order 
to work more undisturbed, he had 
taken a country house at Versailles, 
which, with a large garden, cost him 
only fifty dollars until January i. "I 
am looking for a cat, rabbits, a large 
dog, pigeons and a cock and hens, 
pour faire mon menage. . . . My best 
regards to all the 'first loves ' you men- 
tion ; and assure them that I take as a 
great unkindness their having mar- 
ried my friends, since it puts it entirely 
out of my power to prove my sincerity 
by making them widows." 


if among amertcan ^ongg 

An early edition of "Clari" is to be 
found at the Astor branch of the New 
York Public Library. It is a 24mo, and 
shows the marks of age and of much 
handling before having been deposited 
in the library. Although it is undated, 
it appears to have been printed about 
1829. The title-page reads: "Clari, or 
the Maid of Milan. An Opera in two 
acts. By John Howard Payne, Esq. Au- 
thor of Brutus, The Lancers, Ali Pacha, 
Charles the Second, etc. Embellished 
with a fine engraving, by Mr. Bonner, 
from a Drawing, taken in the Theatre, 
by Mr. R. Cruikshank. London. John 

Three casts are given — the original 
with Miss A. M. Tree as Clari, that of 
1826 with Miss Paton, and that of 
1829 with Miss Foote. 

There also are some introductory re- 
marks signed **D G," who passes 

the following comment upon the three 
Claris : 

"Miss Paton's singing in * Clari' was 


J^ome, ^toeet !^ome 

faultless, but she failed to impart to 
her acting that fine sensibility which 
distinguished the performance of Miss 
M. Tree. It was this young lady who 
first brought the beautiful air of 
^Home! Sweet Home!' into such high 
esteem, — an air to which every ge- 
nerous heart beats a response. Miss 
Foote, in Xlari,' is pretty and grace- 

Payne wrote two additional stanzas 
to "Home, Sweet Home," under cir- 
cumstances which were narrated to 
General James Grant Wilson by Fitz- 
Greene Halleck, and which General 
Wilson gives in his book "William 
CuUen Bryant and His Friends:" 

"Many years ago," said Halleck to 
the writer, "afriend of minewas dining 
in London with an American lady, the 
wife of an opulent banker, a member 
of the house of Baring Brothers. Dur- 
ing the evening Mr. Payne called and 
presented her with a copy of *Home, 
Sweet Home,' set to music, and with 


jfamoug amertcan ^ongg 

two additional verses addressed to 
her, which I never have seen in print." 
The lines are as follows: 

To us in despite of the absence of years, 
How sweet the remembrance of home still appears 1 
From allurements abroad, which but flatter the eye. 
The unsatisfied heart turns and says with a sigh, 

Home, home! sweet, sweet Home I 

There's no place like Home I 

There 's no place like Home ! 

Your exile is blest with all fate can bestow. 

But mine has been checkered with many a woe 1 

Yet though different our fortunes, our thoughts are the 

And both, as we think of Columbia, exclaim. 

Home, home! sweet, sweet Home! 

There's no place like Home 1 

There's no place like Home I 

"Clari" was given in this country soon 
after its first performance in London. 
For many years it remained a favorite 
piece, and among the distinguished 
actresses who were heard in it here 
were Ellen Tree and Matilda Heron. 
But with changing taste in theatrical 
matters it disappeared from the stage. 
In February, 1873, however, more than 
twenty years after its author's death, 

!^ome, ^toeet l^ome 

"Clari" was given at the Brooklyn 
Academy of Music, largely as a result 
of the efforts of Payne's biographer, 
Gabriel Harrison. John Gilbert, E. M. 
Holland and Phillis Glover (as Clari) 
were in the cast, and about two thou- 
sand dollars were realized toward a 
monument in Prospect Park, which 
was unveiled in September of the same 
Payne left England and returned to 
the United States in 1832. Ten years 
later, and again in 1851, he was ap- 
pointed Consul at Tunis. There he 
died April 9, 1852, far from home and 
with no relative or friend at his bed- 
side. He was buried in St. George's 
Cemetery, overlooking the Bay of Tu- 
nis and the ruins of ancient Carthage. 

Hands of the stranger, ring the mournful knell — 
Homeless the bard who sang of home so well 1 

It seemed as if even after death mis- 
chance must pursue him. For in the 
inscription on his gravestone both his 
birthplace and the date of his death 


were wrongly given. Moreover, in or- 
der to settle the debts he left behind, 
amounting to about seven hundred 
dollars and incurred mainly in improv- 
ing the Consulate building, his effects, 
including his library and many MSS., 
were sold. A collection of MSS. in 
bound volumes, an autograph album 
and a few other articles were not ap- 
praised or sold ; and subsequently the 
album was offered for sale in New 
York at a larger price than the sum 
total of his debts. Among his effects 
was a box resembling a bound volume 
and stamped *^The Code of Texas." It 
contained two Colt's revolvers. 
In 1883 W. W. Corcoran, who when 
a boy had seen Payne act, had the 
poet's remains transferred from Tu- 
nis to Washington. When the body 
reached Washington it was placed in 
the Corcoran Art Gallery. On June 9 
the remains were reinterred in Oak 
Hill Cemetery, the President of the 
United States, his Cabinet, and a mili- 

i^^ilx34 1,«, yt^«-t>u .<&-;^ cJ/On-^^ f 

^, y^-"^ l-^J^ -J-.~y ■Cr-t.J-^ ttLa^t^viJ^ CrtdCtM- 0->-«^»>-' ■ — 
— t'A* A^>-^ ■ai-^^y^-^^y o,«.-l-^ ■Kfcii.<?— C<«,~»^ji- •«,-<^*t*7- f»t-« 

c/itr^*-^ , A-c-**'-*- ' \^u^-^^^^ t/u/*e*-^ iJro-y^'^M. . 


i^ome, ^toeet !^ome 

tary escort forming part of the cor- 
tege, — a contrast to the poet's sad life 
and lonely death which conveys its 
own commentary. But, at least, they 
were bringing him "home." 


£Dlt) jfolfejj at l^ome 



£>U) jFol&0 at I^ome 


HORTLY after Herr Wil- 
helmj, the great German vio- 
linist, reached New York, in 
1878, he went to a music store 
and asked if they had an arrangement 
of an American song which he thought 
was called "Black Jack." 
No— they did not know of any song 
of that title. Was Herr Wilhelmj sure 
it was correct? 

Thereupon Herr Wilhelmj pursed his 
lips and whistled a tune. *'Ah!" ex- 
claimed the clerks; "he wants 'Old 
Black Joe.'" Much to the virtuoso's 
gratification it was quickly forth- 
"Old Black Joe" was written and 
composed by Stephen Collins Foster, 
who also wrote and composed "Old 
Folks at Home" and other songs, in 
all about one hundred and sixty. Many 
of them have become genuine songs 


famoug american ^ongg 

of the people, and the most popular, 
"Old Folks at Home," has been trans- 
lated into nearly all European and 
several Asiatic languages. Even dur- 
ing Foster's lifetime his music was on 
thousands, perhaps millions, of lips, 
but the people who sang his songs 
passed the man by. It has been said 
with justice that during the last years 
of his life, which were passed in New 
York, the most familiar sounds he 
heard about him were strains of his 
own music, the least familiar sight a 
face he knew. Now he is recognized — 
and, after the way of the world, too late 
for it to prosper him — as having pos- 
sessed positive genius for the invention 
of simple yet tender and refined melody 
which has not been without its influ- 
ence in shaping the development of 
musical taste in this country. The re- 
finement of Foster's melodic invention 
is an important factor. Sometimes a 
popular air is the starting-point of the 
formation of musical taste. It may be a 


flDlD Jfolfiis at l^ome 

far cry from " Old Folks at Home" to 
appreciation ofthe" Ninth Symphony" 
or Wagner opera ; but it would be a 
further one if Foster had caught popu- 
lar fancy with slap-dash, vulgar tunes 
instead of with the refined and gently 
melancholic strains of his best pro- 
ductions. Doubtless it was this refine- 
ment and tenderness which attracted 
Wilhelmj to the air he asked for — 
even if his ignorance of English led 
him to call it "Black Jack." 

Foster wrote the words for nearly all 
his songs. They are not remarkable as 
poetry, but they go very well with the 
music. Moreover they express senti- 
ments that are universal— love of 
home, of mother, of wife, of sweetheart 
—sentiments that appeal instantly to 
the popular heart, and they are melo- 
dious and easy flowing. Probably not 
one person out of a thousand, if so 
many, had heard of the "Swanee Rib- 
ber" before Foster's "Old Folks at 
Home" was published, and but for that 


jFamoug American ^ongg 

song, the stream doubtless still would 
be threadingits way to the Gulf of Mex- 
ico in obscurity. Howdidthe composer 
chance to hit upon the name that fits 
in so perfectly with the verse and with 
the sentiment of the music? 

One day in 1851 Foster entered his 
brother Morrison's office in Pittsburg. 

** Morrison," he said, "I 've got a new 
song, and I want the name of some 
Southern river in two syllables to use 
in it." 

His brother suggested Yazoo. That 
wouldn't do. Then Pedee. Foster 
would n't have it. Morrison then took 
down an atlas from his shelf and opened 
it on his desk at the map of the United 
States. Together the two brothers 
looked over it. At last Morrison's fin- 
ger stopped at a little river in Florida. 

"That's it! That's it!" Foster ex- 
claimed delightedly. " Now listen." He 
hastily scribbled in a word on a piece 
of paper he had in his hand, and then 
read to his brother the lines beginning, 

i^lh fom at ]^ome 

"Way down upon de Swanee Ribber." 
Can the line be imagined as "Way 
down upon de Yazoo Ribber?" or 
"Way down upon the Pedee Ribber?" 
One produces an eccentric, the other 
a comic effect, whereas "Swanee" has 
the melodious, flowing sound that 
Foster was seeking. The song has 
placed a halo of sentiment over the 
Swanee, with the result that most peo- 
ple who see it are disappointed. 'T is 
the river of song, and best viewed 
through the delicate mist of music. 


Way down upon de Swanee Ribber, 

Far, far away, 
Dere 's wha ma heart is turning ebber, 

Dere 's wha de old folks stay. 
All up and down de whole creation 

Sadly I roam, 
still longing for de old plantation, 

And for de old folks at home. 

All de world am sad and dreary, 

Ebery where I roam ; 
Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary, 

Far from de old folks at home ! 

All round de little farm I wander'd 
When I was young, 


jfamoujgj american ^onag 

Den many happy days I squander'd, 

Many de songs I sung. 
When I was playing wid my brudder 

Happy was I, 
Oh I take me to my kind old mudder, 

Dere let me live and die. 

One little hut among de bushes, 

One dat I love, 
Still sadly to my mem'ry rushes, 

No matter where I rove. 
When will I see de bees a-humming 

All round de comb? 
When will I hear de banjo tumming 

Down in my good old home? 

About the time Foster composed " Old 
Folks at Home" he received a request 
from Christy, the famous Negro min- 
strel, then appearing with his company 
in New York, for a new song with the 
right to sing it before it was published. 
Christy also desired to have at least 
one edition bear his own name as au- 
thor and composer. Foster showed 
Christy's letter to his brother, who 
drew up an agreement whereby the 
minstrel undertook to pay five hun- 
dred dollars for the privileges he 

had requested, and despatched it to 


mh i[om at f ome 

Christy, who sent it back, duly signed, 
by return mail. This explains why 
Christy's name appears on the title- 
page of the first edition of "Old Folks 
at Home." 

This song and "Home, Sweet Home" 
probably are the most widely known 
songs in the English language, and it 
is a singular coincidence that both 
have longing for home as their under- 
lying sentiment. "Old Folks at Home" 
has been called the "song of the home- 
sick" and the potency of its appeal is 
illustrated by an anecdote. During the 
civil war a Northern regiment had its 
pay so long delayed that most of the 
soldiers, in a state bordering on mu- 
tiny, broke through the sentry lines, 
made for a town near camp and at night 
returned in a condition of riotous in- 
ebriety. In vain the officers and the few 
men who had remained sober tried to 
subdue the bedlam that had broken 
loose and bring about some semblance 
of order. At last, when even the colo- 


iffamoujS ametican ^ongjs 

nel had been defied, the bandmaster 
called his musicians about him, spoke 
a few words, and the next moment the 
strains of **01d Folks at Home" were 
heard above the shouts of the obstre- 
perous soldiers. Within twenty min- 
utes the half-drunken crowd had wept 
itself to sleep. It was a wonderful il- 
lustration of the power that lies in 
a melody which goes straight to the 
Stephen Collins Foster, like John 
Howard Payne, the author of "Home, 
Sweet Home," came of good family; 
and, like Payne's life, his too was un- 
fortunate, notwithstanding bright pro- 
spects in youth. His father, William 
Barclay Foster, was a general mer- 
chant in Pittsburg, from where he de- 
spatched goods on flatboats down the 
Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New 
Orleans. About twice a year he made 
the trip himself, sometimes returning 
overland, sometimes by vessel to New 
York. On one of these voyages he was 

flDiti fom at I^ome 

captured by pirates off the coast of 
Cuba, but was liberated by a Spanish 
man-of-war. William Barclay Foster 
was married in Chambersburg, Penn- 
sylvania, in 1807, to Eliza Clayland 
Tomlinson. The newly wedded couple 
crossed the mountains to Pittsburg, a 
distance of nearly three hundred miles, 
on horseback. The elder Foster was 
a substantial business man. He pur- 
chased a large tract of land, then out- 
side of Pittsburg, but now part of the 
city, which he named Lawrenceville in 
honor of Captain James Lawrence of 
"Don't give up the ship" fame. During 
the War of 1812 when Washington 
had been burned by the British and 
New Orleans was threatened, urgent 
orders came to Pittsburg for supplies 
for Jackson's band of defenders, but 
no money accompanied the orders. 
Foster nevertheless shipped the sup- 
plies, which reached Jackson in the 
nick of time. But the government 
never settled for them, and the judg- 


famouis amtrfcan ^ong^ 

ment which Foster recovered still 
stands unsatisfied on the records of 
the United States Court at Pittsburg. 
His patriotism, however, undimin- 
ished, he donated a piece of ground in 
Lawrenceville for a soldiers' burial- 
place. A monument marks the site. 
Of William Barclay Foster's children 
Morrison Foster died as recently as 
1904. He was a man of means. Another 
son, William Foster, was the first vice- 
president of the Pennsylvania Rail- 
road ; a daughter married Rev. Edward 
Y. Buchanan, a brother of President 
Buchanan, and her daughter is the wife 
of the president of one of the great 
railway systems of the United States. 
H enrietta Crosman, the actress, whose 
full name is Henrietta Foster Cros- 
man, is another direct descendant. She 
is a grandniece of Stephen Collins 
Foster, and from her and her mother, 
who was the first person to sing sev- 
eral of his songs, many of the facts for 
this article have been obtained. 

flDlt) foW at ^omt 

These family details are interesting 
because they show that Stephen was 
of gentle birth, which goes far to ac- 
count for the delicacy and refinement 
which give his melodies much of their 
charm. He was the idol of a tender, 
devoted mother, and the pet of the fa- 
mily ; and there was no reason why his 
life should not have passed unclouded 
and happy save that he became a slave 
to drink, so that he died in want in a 
New York hospital, and came near to 
burial as an unidentified pauper in the 
potters' field. 

It was July 4, 1826, in the midst of 
the celebration of fifty years of Ameri- 
can independence, and the band on 
the grounds of the Foster residence at 
Lawrenceville (now part of Pittsburg) 
playing "The Star-Spangled Banner," 
that Stephen Collins Foster was born. 
When he was two years old he would 
lay his sister's guitar, which he called 
his "ittly pizani" (little piano), on the 
floor, and pick out harmonies on the 


famom American ^ongg 

strings. At eight years of age he taught 
himself the flute, and later the piano. 
His first composition to be publicly 
performed was a waltz, the "Tioga," 
which he wrote for four flutes, and 
played with three of his fellow-stu- 
dents at the commencement of the Ath- 
ens (Pennsylvania) Academy, where it 
was received with great applause. His 
first published song was "Open thy 
Lattice, Love." He was then sixteen. 
When he was nineteen he formed a 
singing club among the young men of 
his acquaintance. It met twice a week 
at his father's house, and he conducted. 
After a while he began composing 
songs for this club. The first was "The 
Louisiana Belle." A week later he 
wrote one of his best known songs, 
"Uncle Ned." As an illustration of 
his happy faculty of expression it is 
pointed out that when he wrote the 
line, "His fingers were long like de 
cane in de brake," he never had been 
below the Ohio, yet the aptness of the 

€)lt) folfejS at J^ome 

simile will strike anyone who has seen 
a sugar-cane plantation. 

In running over the list of Stephen 
Collins Foster's songs it is found to 
include many that are so familiar that 
the popular mind does not associate 
them with any particular composer, 
but takes for granted that they ''just 
growed." Nothing could go farther to 
prove that although they were con- 
sciously composed, they have all the 
characteristics of genuine folk songs, 
and that, simple as they are (three 
chords of the key usually suffice Fos- 
ter for harmony), they are destined to 
survive. A year after he had composed 
"Uncle Ned," and while he was clerk- 
ing it in his brother Dunning's office 
in Cincinnati, he wrote "Oh, Susanna." 
Not having as yet taken up music pro- 
fessionally, he made a present of these 
two songs to a friend, who cleared ten 
thousand dollars from them, and de- 
veloped what was then a small musi- 
cal publishing business into one of the 


ifamoug american ^ongg 

largest houses in its line in the West. 
Several of Foster's songs echoed his 
personal feelings. "Massa's in de Cold 
Ground," though of course a darky 
song, was written under the sorrow 
and feeling of loneliness caused by his 
father's death; "Old Dog Tray" in 
memory of a beautiful setter he had 
owned ; " My Old Kentucky Home " as 
a musical souvenir of the picturesque 
homestead of his relative, Judge and 
United States Senator John Rowan, 
of Bardstown, Kentucky. It is said 
that "My Old Kentucky Home" was 
written by Foster while he and his 
sister were on a visit to the Rowan 
home. One morning while the slaves 
were at work and the darky children 
romping, the two young visitors were 
seated on a bench in front of the home- 
stead. In a tree overhead a mocking- 
bird was warbling. From a bush near 
by came the song of a thrush. Ac- 
cording to the story, Foster wrote and 
composed the song then and there; 

flDlD f olfejs at l^ome 

and when enoughof it was jotted down 
for his sister to obtain an idea of the 
melody and of the first stanza, she took 
the sheet from his hand and in a sweet, 
mellow voice, that chimed in with the 
surroundings, sang. 

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home ; 

'T is summer ; the darkies are gay ; 
The corntop 's ripe and the meadow 's in the bloom, 

While the birds make music all the day. 

One Sunday afternoon in the home of 
one of his brothers, he sat with one 
leg over the arm of his chair, whis- 
tling. After a while he went to a table 
and began writing some words and 
music. Then he called his niece (who 
afterwards became Mrs. Crosman) to 
the piano, and together they tried over 
what he had first whistled and then 
put down on paper. Later in the day 
he arranged it for quartet, and in the 
evening he, his niece and his brother 
went to a neighbor's, where the lady 
of the house sang soprano, and tried 
over the quartet. Thus his most am- 


jTamoug American ^ongjg 

bitious composition, "Come where my 
Lovelies Dreaming, "was written both 
as a solo and as a quartet and sung in 
both forms, all in the course of an after- 
noon and evening. 

Foster is described as a man of com- 
paratively small stature (five feet seven 
inches), but of great physical courage. 
Mrs. Crosman tells me that at a dance 
he presented a bouquet of flowers to a 
girl who was engaged and that when 
her fianc6 protested rather more vio- 
lently than seemed necessary, Stephen 
promptly knocked him down. The in- 
cident led to the breaking off of the 
engagement. One night, on his way 
home, he saw two ruffians attacking 
a drunken man, promptly interfered, 
and fought off the two men in a rough- 
and-tumble combat, during which he 
received a knife-wound on the cheek 
which left a lifelong scar. 

Though never unwilling to risk a per- 
sonal encounterwhen he thought him- 
self justified in so doing, he was deeply 

€)ID ^oM at I^ome 

sympathetic and tender-hearted. On 
one occasion when he saw a little girl 
run over and killed — she was crossing 
the street of a rainy night, her shawl 
drawn over her head and face so that 
she did not see or hear the horses ap- 
proaching—he followed the body to 
the home of her parents, who were 
poor working-people, and remained 
with them all night trying to comfort 
them as best he could. At the same 
time he was proud and sensitive and 
resented the least slight. A woman 
issuing a verbal invitation to a party 
said, **Tell Stephen to come, and to be 
sure and bring his flute." He sent the 
flute — but stayed at home himself. 

He was a light sleeper. A newly 
bought clock, which he had placed on 
his mantel-shelf, so disturbed him with 
its loud tick that he got out of bed, 
wrapped a blanket around the offend- 
ing clock and put it in a bureau drawer. 
But the dull throb which reached his 
ear was even more tantalizing than 


the sharper sound had been. He arose 
again, carried the clock and blanket 
downstairs and placed them in the 
cupboard. But in his room he heard, 
or fancied he heard, the distant throb 
of the timepiece like a muffled funeral 
note. This time he carried clock and 
blanket to the remotest recess of the 
cellar, where he covered them with a 
washtub ; then, carefully closing every 
door behind him, he ascended to his 
room, and at last was able to go to 
sleep. One night a strange dog, prowl- 
ing about the place and howling, so dis- 
turbed Foster that he seized a poker 
and, dashing out, chased the animal 
away. Next day the familymade merry 
of this incident at the expense of the 
author and composer of "Old Dog 

At times he wrote songs which he 
did not consider good enough to send 
to his pubHshers. "Uncle Stephen," 
Mrs. Crosman once asked him, "why 
do you take the trouble to write out 


£DID ilfolItjS at ]^ome 

those ugly things that you tear up al- 
most as soon as you have them on 

"Because," he replied, "it's the only 
way I can get them out of my head 
and make room there for something 

Probably his most familiar songs are. 
Beautiful Dreamer, Come where my 
Love lies Dreaming, Don't bet your 
Money on the Shanghai, Gentle Annie, 
'Gwine to run All Night, Hard Times 
come again no More, I see Her still in 
my Dreams, Jenny June, Laura Lee, 
Louisiana Belle, Massa's in de Cold 
Ground, My Old Kentucky Home, 
Nelly was a Lady, Nelly Bly, Old Dog 
Tray, Oh Boys, carry Me 'Long, Old 
Folks at Home, Old Black Joe, Oh, 
Susanna, Under the Willow she's 
Sleeping, Uncle Ned, Virginia Belle, 
Willie, we have Missed You, and 
When this dreadful War is ended. He 
also wrote and composed fifteen 


(ffamoujS american Rongji 

In 1850 Foster married Jane Denny 
McDowell, the daughter of a leading 
Pittsburg physician. Shortly after- 
wards he was induced by flattering 
offers from his publishers, Firth, Pond 
& Co., of New York, to settle in that 
city. But after he had been there a 
year he grew so homesick that one 
day he announced that he was going 
home, disposed of his furniture before 
evening, and the next day, late at 
night, rang the bell of his parents' 
house. His mother recognized his 
footsteps and going to the door called 
out, "Is that my dear son come home 
again?" He was so affected by her 
voice that, when she opened the door, 
she found him crying like a child. 

He remained at home until i860 
when, having separated from his wife, 
he again went to New York. There 
his unfortunate habits grew upon him 
and at times he walked the streets in 
an old glazed cap and shabby clothing 
which made him look more like a 

flDlD f 0160 at l^ome 

tramp than the composer of songs 
that were being sung on every side. 
He would write and compose a song 
in the morning, sell it in the afternoon, 
and spend the proceeds in dissipation 
before night. In January, 1864, while 
ill with fever in a cheap hotel, he rose 
during the night for a drink of water, 
was so weak that he fell when near 
the washstand, and, in so doing, struck 
against the broken lip of the pitcher 
and gashed his neck. He lay on the 
floor insensible until discovered in the 
morning by a servant who was bring- 
ing towels to his room. On being re- 
vived he asked to be taken to Bellevue 
Hospital, where he died from fever and 
loss of blood on the thirteenth of Janu- 
ary. His identity not being known at 
the hospital, his body for a time lay 
in the morgue, where friends finally 
traced it and prevented the composer 
of so many sweet and tender melodies 
from being buried as a pauper. It is 
sometimes said that corporations 


jfamoujS ametfcan ^ongjs 

have no souls, but both the Pennsyl- 
vania Railway and the Adams Ex- 
press Company declined payment for 
conveying the remains to Pittsburg. 
He was buried beside his parents, a 
volunteer band, formed of the best 
musicians of the city, playing **Come 
where my Love lies Dreaming" and 
**01d Folks at Home" over his grave. 




N the eveningof June 28, 1904, 
the orchestra at the Waldorf- 
Astoria struck up "Dixie," 
which is on its programme 
almost nightly, and especially in sum- 
mer, when so many Southerners are in 
New York. As usual a thrill of recogni- 
tion and pleasure passed through the 
restaurant. Many people. Northerners 
as well as Southerners (for what once 
was the civil war song of the South long 
has been adopted by the whole coun- 
try), beat time to the music by tapping 
on the floor with their feet, or on the 
tables with forks and spoons. While 
this unconscious tribute was being 
paid to a popular song, in what is per- 
haps the gayest nook in the New 
World, an old minstrel, loved by his 
humble neighbors but forgotten by the 
world at large, lay dying in a little clap- 
board hut on the outskirts of Mount 


jTamoug american ^ongg 

Vernon, Ohio. Forty-five years before, 
he had written and composed the song 
which at that moment, under the blaze 
of electroliers, was being played for 
the delectation of men and women any 
one of whom carelessly would spend 
for an evening's amusement more than 
he might have had to live on for a year. 
The old minstrel was Daniel Decatur 
Emmett, sometimes called for short 
''Dan Decate," but more generally 
known among the few stage veterans 
who remembered him at all as "Old 
Dan Emmett." 

After Emmett's death some one 
asked, "Does it pay to be famous?" 
and pointed to his poverty as a nega- 
tive answer. Yet the old minstrel was 
content. He had his hut, which was 
scrupulously clean ; a garden patch and 
some chickens. A few years before he 
died that eminently practical charity, 
the Actors' Fund of America, learned 
of his whereabouts and granted him 
a small stipend. Occasionally he re- 


ceived requests accompanied by re- 
mittances for his autograph or manu- 
script copies of "Dixie." Moreover, 
like many people of the stage (al- 
though this may surprise those whose 
acquaintance with it is merely casual), 
he was deeply religious. Often he could 
be seen sitting in the sun outside his 
door and reading his large copy of the 
Bible. Among the many manuscripts 
which he left was a set of prayers ap- 
parently of his own authorship. One 
of them was a grace before meals. Its 
appropriateness to his own humble cir- 
cumstances is one of the most touch- 
ing examples of unconscious pathos I 
know of. It does not, after the usual 
manner of such prayers, thank the 
Lord for his "bounty," but "for this 
frugal meal, and all other meals Thou 
hast permitted me to enjoy during my 
past existence." There surely was a 
spirit of resignation as rare as it was 
pathetic ! 
Emmett wrote "Dixie" while he was 


a member of the famous Bryant's Min- 
strels which he had joined in 1857. He 
was known already as the composer 
of "Old Dan Tucker," and he was en- 
gaged by Bryant not only in the ca- 
pacity of a stage performer, but also 
to compose Negro songs and walk- 
arounds. Those were the days of the 
real minstrel shows when **end men," 
"bones" and "interlocutor" were in 
their glory. The performance always 
wound up with an ensemble called the 
" walk-around, " which was (or was sup- 
posed to be) a genuine bit of planta- 
tion life. The composition of fetching 
walk-arounds was a knack with Em- 
mett that made him a valuable acqui- 
sition for a minstrel troupe. Moreover, 
he had a good voice and played many 
instruments, but especially violin and 

On Saturday night, September 17, 
1859, after the performance, one of the 
Bryants told Emmett that a new walk- 
around was wanted in time for re- 

hearsal on Monday. The minstrel re- 
plied that while the time was very 
short he would do his best. That night 
after he reached home he tried to 
hit upon some tune, but the music 
would n't come. His wife cheerily told 
him to wait until morning ; he should 
have the room to himself so that he 
could work undisturbed, and when he 
had finished the walk-around he could 
play it for her as sole audience. If she 
liked it, the Bryants would, and so 
would the average listener. 

Next day was rainy and dismal. Some 
years before, Emmett had travelled 
with a circus as a drummer. In win- 
ter the warm Southern circuit was a 
popular route with circus people, and 
those who were obliged to show North 
would say when the cold weather 
would make them shiver, "I wish I was 
in Dixie." The phrase was in fact a 
current circus expression. On that 
dismal September day, probably the 
beginning of the equinoctial, when 


jTamoug american ^ongg 

Emmett stepped to the window and 
looked out, the old longing for the 
pleasant South came over him, and 
involuntarily he thought to himself, 
"I wish I was in Dixie." Like a flash 
the thought suggested the first line 
for a walk-around, and a little later 
the minstrel, fiddle in hand, was work- 
ing out the melody which, coupled 
with the words, made "Dixie" a gen- 
uine song of the people almost from 
the instant it was first sung from the 
stage of Bryant's Minstrels, then at 
472 Broadway, New York, on the night 
of Monday, September 19, 1859. 
When Emmett took the song to re- 
hearsal it began with a verse which 
was omitted at the performance. 

Dis worl' was made in jiss six days, 
An' finish'd up in various ways ; 

Look away I look away ! look away I 
Dixie Land 1 
Dey den made Dixie trim and nice, 
But Adam call'd it "Paradise." 
Look away I look away ! look away 1 
Dixie Land 1 


The minstrels were very careful never 
to put anything on the stage that 
might give offence in any way, and 
Mrs. Bryant, who was at the rehearsal, 
was afraid that these lines might of- 
fend people with pronounced religious 
scruples, though she told Emmett, dip- 
lomatically, that they were "very nice" 
in other respects. He included them 
in some of his manuscript copies of the 
song, but the version generally known 
begins with the familiar 

I wish I was in de land ob cotton, 
Old times dar am not forgotten ; 

Look away 1 look away I look away ! 
Dixie Land ! 
In Dixie land whar I was born in, 
Early on one frosty mornin', 
Look away ! look away ! look away 
Dixie Land! 

Den I wish I was in Dixie! Hooray! Hooray! 
In Dixie's Land we '11 take our stand, to lib an' die in Dixie. 
Away ! away ! away down South in Dixie. 
Away ! away ! away down South in Dixie. 

The stanzas which followed under- 
went slight changes from time to time. 
In their final shape they are: 


(famouisi ^metican ^ongjs 

Ole missus marry " Will-de-weaber ; " 
Willum was a gay deceaber ; 

Look away I look away 1 look away I 
Dixie Land ! 
But when he put his arm around her, 
He smiled as fierce as a forty-pounder ; 
Look away I look away I look away 1 
Dixie Land ! 

His face was sharp as a butcher's cleaber ; 
But dat did not seem to greab her ; 
Look away I look away I look away I 
Dixie Land 1 
Ole missus acted de foolish part, 
And died for a man dat broke her heart ; 
Look away ! look away ! look away 1 
Dixie Land 1 

Now here 's health to de next ole missus, 
An' all the gals dat want to kiss us ; 
Look away I look away 1 look away I 
Dixie Land I 
But if you want to drive 'way sorrow, 
Come and hear dis song to-morrow ; 
Look away! look away! look awayl 
Dixie Land I 

Dar 's buckwheat cakes an' Injin batter, 
Makes you fat or a little fatter ; 
Look away ! look away ! look away I 
Dixie Land ! 
Den hoe it down an' scratch your grabble, 
To Dixie's Land I 'm bound to trabble ; 
Look away! look away! look awayl 
Dixie Land I 




Mrs. Emmett had suggested plain 
"Dixie" as a title for the song, and her 
husband had adopted it. But when 
the song was published in i860, it 
was called, "I wish I was in Dixie's 
Land," — a line which does not occur 
in it. Afterwards it was published as 
"Dixie's Land" — but to the public it 
simply is "Dixie," which shows that 
when Mrs. Emmett suggested that 
one word for a title, she knew what 
she was about. Emmett himself stated 
that he received five hundred dollars 
for the copyright of "Dixie," and that 
what he had received for all his other 
songs put together (which, it should 
be remembered, included his popular 
"Dan Tucker") would be fairly repre- 
sented by one hundred dollars ; so that 
during a lifetime of eighty-nine years 
his receipts as a popular song com- 
poser amounted to six hundred dol- 
lars — and obscurity in a little Western 

In 1894, when Emmett was seventy- 


jfamoujs amerfcan ^ongjs 

nine years old, a minstrel manager, 
who thought the composer of ''Dixie" 
still might be profitably utilized as a 
venerable figurehead in a show, but 
who, like nearly every one else, had 
lost all track of Emmett, finally suc- 
ceeded in tracing him to Mount Ver- 
non. When, however, the manager 
reached there and began inquiring 
for "Dan Emmett, the composer of 
* Dixie,'" the reply he got from the 
townspeople was : 

*' Friend, you've struck the wrong 
place. There's a Dan Emmett living 
here, sure enough, and he used to be 
with some show; but he never com- 
posed 'Dixie,' nor anything else." 

This was Emmett's native town and 
he had been living in it again for six 
years ; yet, until the minstrel manager 
made his inquiries, it was not known 
there that the kindly old man, in the 
little cottage on the outskirts of the 
place, was the composer of a song that 
had been, was being, and bid fair for- 


ever to be, ground out on hand-organs, 
played by bands and sung as solo and 
chorus, from one end of the country to 
the other. Nowadays song composers 
understand better how to manage the 
thing. They arrive at their publisher's 
place of business in a hansom and drive 
away in an automobile; and when 
"Dixie" is played at the Waldorf-As- 
toria, they are there too — dining. Quite 
a contrast to the simple old man, whose 
most remarkable trait was his indiffer- 
ence to the fate of what he had written 
and who thanked God daily for "this 
frugal meal"! 

Emmett was born in Mount Vernon, 
Ohio, October 29, 1815. His grandfather 
was a soldier in the Revolution, fight- 
ing under Morgan at the Cowpens. His 
father, who was a blacksmith, fought in 
the War of 1812, in the regiment com- 
manded by Lewis Cass. Dan as a boy 
would "blow and strike" for his father 
in the latter's smithy. At intervals be- 
tween his work he ran errands or played 


the fiddle for the villagers. He managed 
when thirteen years of age entered a 
newspaper office as compositor. The 
result of his experience in printing-of- 
fices is said to have been shown in the 
careful punctuation of his manuscripts. 
He still was working "at the case" 
when, at the age of fifteen or sixteen, 
he wrote "Old Dan Tucker." A year 
later he enlisted in the United States 
Army as a fifer, and during his service 
also learned to drum. More than sixty 
years later, after his death, there was 
found among his manuscripts one en- 
titled " Emmett'sStandard Drummer," 
which is a complete school for fife and 
drum "according to the *Ashworth 

After serving a full enlistment he tra- 
velled with various circus bands. At 
that time Negro minstrelsy was as yet 
unknown, although there were indi- 
vidual Ethiopian performers, like Dan 
Rice of "Jim Crow " fame. Emmett had 

travelled with Rice whose perform- 
ances possibly suggested the Negro 
minstrel idea to the young drummer. As 
in all such cases, various claims to pri- 
ority are advanced, but it is certain that 
early in 1843, in New York, Emmett 
organized a string quartet, with vio- 
lin, banjo, tambourine and bones, and 
named it the Virginia Minstrels, first 
carefully looking up the word minstrel 
in the dictionary to assure himself that 
it could be applied appropriately to the 
new organization. The costume con- 
sisted of white trousers, striped calico 
shirt and blue calico coat with exag- 
gerated swallowtails. It was not until 
some years later that the regulation 
evening dress was adopted as the cos- 
tume most suitable to the mock dig- 
nity of minstrelsy. 

Emmett's troupe showed successfully 
in various American cities, but when 
it adventured a tour of England it 
promptly stranded. Its organizer re- 
turned to New York, found that his 


favxom American ^ongg 

idea had been utilized by others, and 
eventually joined Bryant's Minstrels. 
From that time on and until he returned 
to Mount Vernon, his occupation was 
Negro minstrelsy. His retirement was 
due to his age and to the fact that 
changes in the style of minstrel per- 
formance had made him a ''back num- 
ber." As the composer of "Dixie" he 
had long since been forgotten. He ac- 
tually had been overshadowed by its 

The vogue of" Dixie" as the war song 
of the South seems to have originated 
in the excitement it caused when sung 
on the stage of the New Orleans Va- 
rieties Theatre in the spring of 1861, 
when Mrs. John Wood was appearing 
there in "Pocahontas." A feature of 
the performance was a zouave march 
which was introduced into the last 
scene. A catchy tune was wanted for 
this, and Carlo Patti, the leader of the 
orchestra, after trying over several 
pieces, decided on "Dixie." He little 


knew what that decision would mean 
for the song. When the zouaves 
marched on the first night, led by- 
Miss Susan Denin, singing "Dixie," 
the audience went wild and demanded 
seven encores. From New Orleans it 
seemed to flash over the entire South ; 
the Washington Artillery had the tune 
arranged for a quickstep and the whole 
section of the country rang with it. 
Pickett ordered it played before his 
famous charge at Gettysburg. Thus 
the anomaly was presented of a song 
written and composed by a man who 
was born in the North, and who as a 
matter of fact sympathized with the 
North, becoming the war song of the 
South. General Albert Pike and others 
wrote additional verses, and these form 
the only foundation for the claim some- 
times advanced that Emmett was not 
the author and composer of "Dixie," 
whereas his name has appeared on the 
copyrighted title-page of the song ever 
since its earliest publication. 


ifamoujs amertcan ^ongis 

General Pike's words to " Dixie" first 
appeared in the "Natchez Courier" 
April 30, 1861. Here are some of the 
characteristic stanzas: 

Southrons, hear your country call you I 
Up, lest worse than death befall you ! 

To arms ! To arms ! To arms, in Dixie ! 
Lo ! all the beacon fires are lighted, 
Let all hearts be now united 1 

To arms ! To arms ! To arms, in Dixie I 


Advance the flag of Dixie ! Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 
For Dixie's land we take our stand, and live and 

die for Dixie 1 
To arms 1 To arms 1 And conquer peace for Dixie I 
To arms I To arms 1 And conquer peace for Dixie i 

Hear the Northern thunders mutter I 
Northern flags in South winds flutter ! 

To arms, &c. 
Send them back your fierce defiance I 
Stamp upon the accursed alliance I 

To arms, &c. 

Fear no danger I Shun no labor ! 
Lift up rifle, pike and sabre I 

To arms, &c. 
Shoulder pressing close to shoulder, 
Let the odds make each heart bolder I 

To arms, &c. 



How the South's great heart rejoices, 
At your cannons' ringing voices ! 

To arms, &c. 
For faith betrayed and pledges broken, 
Wrongs inflicted, insults spoken. 

To arms, &c. 

A further version that was very pop- 
ular with Southern soldiers began : 

Away down South in de fields of cotton. 
Cinnamon seed, and sandy bottom I 

Look away ! look away 1 look away 1 look away 1 
Den 'way down South in de fields of cotton. 
Vinegar shoes and paper stockings I 

Look away I look away I look away ! look away ! 

Another interesting fact regarding 
"Dixie" is that immediately after the 
evacuation of Fort Moultrie and be- 
fore the fall of Sumter, Fanny Crosby, 
the blind hymn-writer, wrote North- 
ern words to the tune, and it was hit 
or miss whether "Dixie" would be- 
come a Northern or a Southern war 
song, or both. But Fanny Crosby's 
words were not "smart" enough, and 
as a Southern song, it had theimmense 
advantage that the original stanzas, 
even without the additions of Pike and 


others, sufficed. During the war poor 
Emmett, who had written the song 
simply as a minstrel walk-around and 
who, having parted with the copyright 
for a paltry sum, never benefited by 
its enormous popularity, received let- 
ters from Northern patriots denoun- 
cing him for disloyalty, and suggesting 
a rope's end as the most appropriate 
punishment for his "treason." 
When he was eighty years old he at 
last had a taste of what it is to be fa- 
mous—and one season of it was 
enough for him. He went out with a 
minstrel troupe in the supposed role 
of venerable figurehead. But when at 
the first performance the orchestra 
struck up "Dixie," he rose and, with 
old-time gestures and in a voice tremu- 
lous with age, sang the song. Through- 
out the South he was the object of 
ovation after ovation. He was grateful, 
but he also was amused, for he could 
not help thinking of the humble origin 
of his song and how far it had gotten 

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Reproduced through the courtesy of Alexander Hill 


away from its original purpose and his 
own sentiments when it became a war 
song. One day, while strolling about 
Richmond, Virginia, he paused in front 
of Stonewall Jackson's monument, and 
the better to read the inscription, raised 
his hat and shielded his eyes with it 
from the sun. That evening one of the 
newspapers came out with big head- 
lines announcingthaf Daniel Decatur 
Emmett, the author of 'Dixie,' like the 
true Southron that he is, bows with 
uncovered head before the monument 
of Stonewall Jackson." Emmett knew 
it was kindly meant, but he appre- 
ciated the unconscious humor of the 
situation too. 

On the whole he enjoyed the tour, but 
did not attempt another. It was "too 
much of the same thing for an old man." 
He went back to Mount Vernon, and 
never left it again. And now that he 
is dead, his grateful countrymen, who 
allowed him at the age of eighty-nine 
to raise chickens, hoe in a garden and 


jTamoug amencan ^ongg 

chop wood for a sparse livelihood, are 
planning to erect a monument in his 
honor! The only redeeming feature of 
it is that he did n't much care. 


iBen :Bolt 



mm Bolt 


HE first time those "three 

mousquetaires of the brush," 

Taffy, the Laird and Little 

Billee, heard Miss Trilby 

O'Ferrall sing 

"Oh, don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt?" 

that young woman had not yet fallen 
under the influence of the sinister 
Svengali and been hypnotized by him 
into singing more divinely than any 
one else in Europe. Her "Ben Bolt" 
was half weird, half ludicrous; the 
mere outline of the melody delivered 
with immense volume of tone, with- 
out, however, a single note being ex- 
actly in tune. 

After Trilby had gone, Little Billee 
was made by Taffy to sit down at the 
piano and sing it. "He sang it very 
nicely with his pleasant little throaty 
English barytone." Then Svengali, 

impatiently shoving him off the piano 


famow amettcan ^ong)^ 

stool, played a masterly prelude to 
the song; and Gecko — as Du Mau- 
rier describes it— cuddling lovingly 
his violin and closing his upturned 
eyes, played that simple melody as 
it probably never had been played 
before— such passion, such pathos, 
such a tone! — and they turned it and 
twisted it, and went from one key to 
another, playing into each other's 
hands, Svengali taking the lead ; and 
fugued and canoned and counter- 
pointed and battledored and shuttle- 
cocked it, high and low, soft and loud, 
in minor, in pizzicato, and in sordino 
—adagio, andante, allegretto, scherzo 
—and exhausted all its possibilities 
of beauty; till their susceptible audi- 
ence of three was all but crazed with 
delight and wonder; and the master- 
ful Ben Bolt, and his over-tender Alice, 
and his too submissive friend, and his 
old schoolmaster so kind and so true, 
and his long-dead schoolmates, and 
the rustic porch and the mill, and the 


•Ben OBolt 

slab of granite so gray, were all mag- 
nified into a strange, almost holy po- 
etic dignity and splendor quite un- 
dreamed of by whoever wrote the 
words and music of that unsophisti- 
cated little song, which has touched 
so many simple British hearts that 
don't know any better. 

"Whoever wrote the words"! Fifty 
years before Du Maurier penned the 
passage I have quoted, "Ben Bolt" 
was written by an American. When 
"Trilby" was published, the author of 
"Ben Bolt" still was living; he lived, 
in fact, until 1902, surviving Du Mau- 
rier eight years. But although the 
poem had been published in a periodi- 
cal, had been sung all over the Eng- 
lish-speaking world, and had formed 
the pivotal point in one of the greatest 
sensations in literary history, its au- 
thor never received a penny for it. 
Moreover to his dying day he resented 
its popularity as compared with the 
reception accorded his maturer writ- 


jfamoug ametican ^ongg 

ings, which he knew to be better. 

I met him once by appointment in his 
own house and conversed with him for 
about an hour without knowing that 
he was the author of "Ben Bolt," and 
not until the "Trilby" craze nearly 
twenty years afterwards did I discover 
that he was. In the autumn of 1876, in 
the midst of a hotly contested presi- 
dential campaign, I carefully prepared 
an extemporaneous stump speech for 
delivery before a political club in Leo- 
nia, New Jersey. As I still was a callow 
youth, a college boy, one of the poli- 
ticians of the neighborhood, who evi- 
dently was suspicious of my efforts, 
advised me to show my speech to a 
Dr. English of Fort Lee, who, although 
a practising physician, took a lively 
interest in politics and made cam- 
paign speeches himself. Accordingly I 
climbed up the rear of the Palisades 
of the Hudson to Fort Lee, where I 
found the doctor living in a small 
house. He was a somewhat elderly, 

OBen OBolt 

dignified gentleman, a trifle old-fash- 
ioned in his attire, and who struck me 
more like a character out of a book 
than a practising physician in the 
straggling settlement on top of the 
PaHsades. He seemed to me decidedly 
above his somewhat plain, not to say 
meagre surroundings ; a man who had 
not found life altogether easy, but had 
the grit to take it as it came. He read 
over my speech, advised me to leave 
out what I had considered its most 
resounding periods, and kindly ex- 
plained to me why these oratorical 
flights had better be omitted. Long 
afterwards when "Trilby" was pub- 
lished, I discovered, while reading a 
review of the book, that the Dr. Eng- 
lish of Fort Lee, who literally had 
raked the "chestnuts" out of the ora- 
torical fire for me, was none other than 
Dr. Thomas Dunn English, the author 
of "Ben Bolt." 

The circumstances under which the 
lines were written, and which were re- 


famous american ^ongg 

lated to me by the author's daughter, 
Miss Alice English, who often heard 
them from her father, seem to take us 
far back in American literature. For 
Dr. English knew Edgar Allan Poe 
and many of the other early American 
writers. During the summer of 1843 he 
was visiting in New York, where he 
became acquainted with N. P. Willis, 
who with George P. Morris recently 
had revived the "New York Mirror." 
Willis asked English to contribute a 
sea poem, explaining, however, that 
the paper was run on very small capi- 
tal and that its editors would be greatly 
obliged to him if he would let them 
have the poem just for the love of the 
thing. That was not an unusual re- 
quest to be made by editors of Ameri- 
can periodicals in those days. At all 
events English consented ; then went 
home and forgot all about his promise 
until reminded of it by a letter from 
He had the manuscript of a sea poem 

I3en TBolt 

which, however, he had discarded as 
not up to the mark, but which played 
its part, nevertheless, in the composi- 
tion of "Ben Bolt." When he sat down 
at his desk to write something new 
for the "Mirror," it seemed as if the 
mantle of Dibdin was reluctant to fall 
upon him and the poem of the sea was 
not forthcoming. But by one of those 
curious reflex actions of the mind he 
drifted into reminiscences of his boy- 
hood, and almost before he knew it he 
had written the line, 

Don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt? 

The poem consists of five stanzas of 
eight lines each, but not until the last 
line is there the slightest hint as to its 
hero's walk in life, when suddenly he 
is apostrophized as "Ben Bolt of the 
salt-sea gale!" — a line that gives con- 
siderable "lift" to the whole and adds 
a touch of vigor to what was simply 
a sentimental ballad. It looks as if Dr. 
English had bethought himself at the 


jTamoug american ^ongg 

finish that Willis had asked for a sea 
poem, and, in order to comply with the 
request, had introduced the line at the 
end of five stanzas in which the sea 
was conspicuous by its absence. The 
curiously interesting fact is, however, 
that when he was halfway through 
the last stanza, his inspiration abso- 
lutely gave out. He *'got stuck," as 
the more commonplace saying is — 
when he chanced to think of the dis- 
carded sea poem and simply copied 
the last four lines of it on to what he 
had written, making them the last four 
lines of "Ben Bolt," which was duly 
published in the "New York Mirror" 
of September 2, 1843, with a few com- 
mendatory words (by way of compen- 
sation) from the editors, and signed 
with the author's initials, "T. D. E." 
"Ben Bolt" was set to music at least 
three times. The first version, which 
never was published, was made by 
Dominick M. H. May, of Baltimore, 
a young composer who at the time re- 

OBen -Bolt 

sided in Washington. In 1848 a mel- 
ody composed by English himself was 
printed in Philadelphia, but it was not 
a success. The tune which carried 
"Ben Bolt" to the farthest ends of the 
English-speaking world had appeared 
two years before. It was a German 
melody which had been adapted to the 
words, or rather to a garbled version 
of them, by a strolling minstrel per- 
former named Nelson Kneass. 
This Kneass came of a good family, 
which had disowned him for going on 
the stage. He was a brother of Horn 
B. Kneass, who at one time was United 
States District Attorney for Eastern 
Pennsylvania. Kneass had a sweet 
tenor voice and became a favorite, but 
always was more or less of a rover. 
While appearing at a theatre in Pitts- 
burg he was told by the manager, who 
was preparing to produce a play by a 
local writer entitled "The Battle of 
Buena Vista," that if he could get a 
new song he would be cast in the 


jfamou{2i American ^onggi 

piece. One of the hangers-on at the 
theatre was a former EngUsh news- 
paper man, A. M. Hunt. The minstrel 
consulted him about words, and Hunt 
told him that he had read some years 
before in a newspaper in England a 
poem called "Ben Bolt" of which he 
remembered enough to be able to piece 
it out for music. Kneass told him to 
go ahead, and Hunt produced three 
stanzas, made up in part of the origi- 
nal, in part of lines which Hunt sup- 
plied himself. Kneass adapted a Ger- 
man melody to them, sang the piece 
in the play, where it made a great hit, 
and it became almost instantaneously 
popular. Afterwards the music and the 
garbled version were published, and to 
this day the song is printed with the 
incorrect words. Two of the lines which 
Hunt had remembered correctly, 

And the shaded nook by the running brook, 
Where the children used to swim, 

were changed at the insistence of the 
publisher, who objected that to sing 


xen T5olt 

about children in swimming would of- 
fend the sense of delicacy of some of 
his customers. In consequence the na- 
tatory diversions of the young hope- 
fuls were eliminated from the printed 
version, and the youngsters have 
not been permitted to go in swim- 
ming since— at least not in the song! 
Kneass received little for the musical 
setting. He continued his wandering 
life, until he died at Chillicothe, Mis- 
souri, where he had "stranded" with a 
theatrical troupe. He was buried there, 
and his headstone proclaims him the 
author of "Ben Bolt." But as he nei- 
ther wrote the words nor composed 
the music, the attribution seems some- 
what far-fetched. 

As most people know "Ben Bolt" 
through the song only, and as Dr. Eng- 
lish's original is far superior to the 
garbled version, it seems only just that 
it should be given here as he wrote it : 


jfamoug american ^ongj^ 

Don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt? — 

Sweet Alice, whose hair was so brown. 
Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile, 

And trembled with fear at your frown 1 
In the old churchyard, in the valley, Ben Bolt, 

In a comer obscure and alone. 
They have fitted a slab of the granite so gray, 

And Alice lies under the stone I 

Under the hickory tree, Ben Bolt, 

Which stood at the foot of the hill, 
Together we've lain in the noonday shade, 

And listened to Appleton's mill. 
The mill-wheel has fallen to pieces, Ben Bolt, 

The rafters have tumbled in. 
And a quiet that crawls round the walls as you gaze 

Has followed the olden din. 

Do you mind the cabin of logs, Ben Bolt, 

At the edge of the pathless wood. 
And the button-ball tree with its motley limbs, 

Which nigh by the doorstep stood ? 
The cabin to ruin has gone, Ben Bolt, 

The tree you would seek in vain ; 
And where once the lords of the forest waved. 

Grows grass and the golden grain. 

And don't you remember the school, Ben Bolt, 

With the master so cruel and grim, 
And the shaded nook by the running brook, 

Where the children went to swim? 
Grass grows on the master's grave, Ben Bolt, 

The spring of the brook is dry. 
And of all the boys who were schoolmates then, 

There are only you and I. 


l$en OBolt 

There is change in the things I loved, Ben Bolt, 

They have changed from the old to the new ; 
But I feel in the depth of my spirit the truth, 

There never was change in you. 
Twelvemonths twenty have past, Ben Bolt, 

Since first we were friends — yet I hail 
Thy presence a blessing, thy friendship a truth, 

Ben Bolt of the salt-sea gale 1 

It will be noticed that in the poem 
the schoolmaster is "cruel and grim," 
while in the song he became "kind 
and true," a weakening of the original 
which is found in every change in 
Hunt's version. The change to which 
English himself objected most was 
the elimination of the two lines be- 
ginning "And a quiet that crawls," 
which he considered the one touch of 
real poetic value in his stanzas. But 
in spite of the poor opinion which its 
author held of "Ben Bolt," it is easy to 
account for its popularity past and 
present. The lines have an easy swing, 
the reiteration of the name "Ben Bolt" 
is effective, and the whole voices the 
vain regrets with which, in later years, 
every one is apt to look back upon a 


famow amertcan ^ongjS 

youth that is gone forever. William 
Vincent Wallace, the composer of 
"Maritana," wrote a piano fantasy on 
"Ben Bolt" which has attained the 
distinction of being included in what 
I may call the ** clothes- wringer" re- 
pertory. For it has been "perforated," 
and put on a roll, and thus can be 
ground out on the mechanical piano. 
"Perforated" fame is the grand mod- 
ern test of popularity. Let struggling 
poets and disheartened composers 
cheer up. For in these modern days 
every cloud has a "perforated" lin- 
During the "Trilby" craze the re- 
quests for Dr. English's autographs 
became so numerous that, owing to 
an affection of the eyes which re- 
sulted in almost total blindness,— it 
being painful for him even to write his 
signature, — he was obliged to send 
a set printed declination in reply. Be- 
fore he adopted this method he re- 
ceived a request from a woman not 

'Ben :Bolt 

only for his autograph, but also for a 
lock of his hair. To this he replied 
that as he just had paid a visit to his 
barber, who had cut off his hair at 
both ends, she would have to wait un- 
til he had grown a new crop. Another 
woman wrote him that she long had 
wondered whether the original Alice 
was as sweet and charming as the 
one portrayed in the poem ; and was 
she pretty? As there was no original 
Alice, these questions remained un- 

Although Dr. English was anything 
but methodical, he liked to be consid- 
ered so. He had a set of pigeonholes 
over his desk all carefully labelled, 
but the contents were apt not to cor- 
respond with the labels. Thus under 
"Statistics" would be found a pack- 
age of Little Dahlias for his garden. 

His wife, whom he survived, was a 
fine pianist, a pupil of William Mason. 
After her death it greatly depressed 
Dr. English to hear the piano played, 


famm^ american ^ongjsi 

and to spare his feelings the instru- 
ment was kept on the third floor of 
the house. 

The doctor was nothing of a poseur. 
Once when a canvasser for an 61ite 
directory called for his name and sub- 
scription, his reply was, "Get out of 
here, we don't belong to the 61itel" 
One of his idiosyncrasies was his in- 
sistence on making his own ink, and 
he used to say that he would have 
made a fortune if he had started an 
ink factory. When, in 1890, he was 
elected a Representative in Congress 
from the Essex district of New Jersey, 
he found that, notwithstanding his 
own low estimate of **Ben Bolt,"much 
courtesy was shown him as its author, 
some of the members telling him that 
when they were children, their mo- 
thers had sung it to them. He used to 
relate that soon after the song was 
published, a ship, a steamboat and a 
race horse were named after it ; add- 
ing, "The ship was wrecked, the steam- 

^^a. ^«Cvt^ *,rCX4 Cr*''uCf'?yycu3zijSV^/lf ^ ^*^</*i^ 


Reproduced by permission from the 
the Rev. Arthur Howard Noll, of 


.script in possession of the author's son-in-law, 
Jniversity of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee 

I3en -Bolt 

boat blew up, and the horse never won a 
race"— all of which was true. He con- 
sidered these untoward events in some 
way in accord with his own ill luck in 
never having made a penny out of the 

H is greatest diversion was gardening, 
and even in Newark, where he passed 
his latter years, with his daughter as 
sole companion and amanuensis, he 
had his little garden plot, which al- 
ways was in bloom during the season. 
Here one autumn, although he was 
nearly blind, he planted lilies. "I doubt 
if I live to see them," he remarked to 
his daughter. Nor did he. Before they 
bloomed he was in his grave. 


Ci^e ^tar^'^panfileD isanntv 



VER a grave in Frederick, 
Maryland, the American flag 
floats every day of the year 
and is reverently renewed on 
each Memorial Day. The grave is that 
of Francis Scott Key, author of '' The 
Star-Spangled Banner." At one time 
the flag was the only monument to 
him in his native state. Indeed the first 
sculptured memorial to the author of 
our national song was erected in a 
state which was foreign territory when 
the song was written. It was the gift 
of a private individual, James Lick, 
and looks out upon the Pacific from 
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. 
There could not, however, be a nobler 
monument to Key than the flag that 
ever floats over his grave, nor one more 
appropriate. Nor is it by any means 


famom amer(can ^ongis 

unfitting that the first sculptured mon- 
ument to him should have been erected 
on a site which was not even part of 
the United States when "The Star- 
Spangled Banner" was written. It 
shows how wholly national the song 
has become. It follows the flag! 

Key was a lawyer by profession, and 
in his day argued some notable cases. 
As a poet he was a dilettante. Yet his 
professional achievements are forgot- 
ten, and he lives in a poem inspired by 
chance circumstance. Indeed, Preble, 
who wrote a book on the American 
flag, went out of his way to argue that 
the poem lacked the qualities of a na- 
tional anthem because it referred to a 
special occasion. Yet every evening at 
sunset, when the garrison flags of the 
United States are lowered, — in Porto 
Rico, on Governor's Island, at the 
Presidio, in the Philippines,— the band 
plays "The Star-Spangled Banner," 
and the same thing occurs on the flag- 
ship of every United States naval 



squadron, in whatever part of the 
world it may be. Preble failed to dis- 
cern that, although the poem was in- 
spired by an actual event of which Key 
was a thrilled spectator, it neverthe- 
less is broadly symbolic of American 
patriotism and, withal, neither boast- 
ful nor threatening, its sentiments be- 
ing based upon right and justice, so 
that now it is taught probably in every 
public school in the land as an exalted 
expression of love of country. 

"The Star-Spangled Banner" came 
straight from the heart of a patriot. 
Remarkable indeed were the circum- 
stances which inspired in this dilet- 
tante author of a few devotional songs 
and some trifles in verse, addressed to 
friends and members of his family, a 
burst of poetry destined to thrill a 
whole people and to expand with the 
boundaries of the country. They form 
a sequence of events as dramatic in 
their outcome as the climax in a well 
constructed play. 


jTamoug amertcan ^ongg 

When in August, 1814, Admiral Cock- 
burn and his fleet returned from the 
West Indies to the coast of the United 
States, he notified James Monroe, then 
Secretary of State at Washington, 
that, at the request of the Governor- 
General of Canada, he would take mea- 
sures of retaliation for what he char- 
acterized as the "wanton destruction" 
committed by the American army in 
upper Canada. The British fleet at the 
time was in the Patuxent River, which 
empties into the Chesapeake, so that 
the towns which Cockburn threatened 
to "destroy and lay waste" were Bal- 
timore, Washington and Annapolis. 
The first object of his vindictive ex- 
pedition was the capital of the coun- 
try. Cockburn's military forces landed 
at Benedict's, on the Patuxent. The 
first day's march brought them to Not- 
tingham, the second to Upper Marl- 
borough. One of the prominent resi- 
dents of that place was Dr. William 
Beanes, who was destined to play a 

Cl^e ^tay-^^pangleP ^Banner 

conspicuous r61e in the events which 
later were to result in the writing of 
"The Star-Spangled Banner." Several 
officers of high rank were quartered 
upon him. Although they were unwel- 
come guests they were courteously 
treated and entertained. 
Meanwhile an American army was 
concentrating at Bladensburg. Some 
of the regiments, as they arrived, were 
assigned to their positions by a hand- 
some young aide-de-camp, none other 
than Francis Scott Key, who, though 
a lawyer, had volunteered for military 
duty. That the Americans were de- 
feated by the British under Ross, who 
burned the public buildings in Wash- 
ington, is history. But enough energy 
remained in the force which had been 
dispersed at Bladensburg to attempt 
the interception of the British when 
they should withdraw to their ships. 
This led Ross, for fear he might have 
to encounter an entrenched enemy in 
his rear, to order the withdrawal of 


f amoujS antcrican ^ongiJ 

his troops from the capital by forced 
marches. A violent storm broke during 
the night, and the following morning 
the troops looked more as if they were 
retreating than an army withdrawing 
after a victory and the sacking of the 
enemy's capital. 

Their appearance deceived the good 
people of Upper Marlborough, and 
when, after the main body of the troops 
had passed through the town, three 
stragglers stopped to drink at a spring 
on Dr. Beanes' grounds, the doctor, 
who was celebrating with some friends 
the supposed discomfiture of the 
enemy, had them seized and confined 
in jail. One of them, however, escaped, 
fell in with a party of British cavalry, 
and notified them of the violence to 
which he and his comrades had been 
subjected, with the result that the 
cavalrymen rode back to Upper Marl- 
borough and not only freed the two 
soldiers, but, furthermore, roused Dr. 
Beanes from his bed at midnight and 


Ci^e ^tar^^pangleD Banner 

bore him away a captive to Admiral 
Cockburn. Indeed, it looked very much 
as if Dr. Beanes were destined to swing 
from the yardarm of a British frigate. 
The worthy doctor, who, it must be 
confessed, had been guilty of hasty and 
indiscreet conduct, to say the least, 
was what is known as a "prominent 
citizen." Moreover he was an inti- 
mate friend of Francis Scott Key, 
who at once applied to the Govern- 
ment for permission to attempt to se- 
cure his release. A vessel at Baltimore 
which was used as a flag of truce for 
the exchange of prisoners, and was in 
charge of John S. Skinner as com- 
missioner, was placed at Key's dis- 
posal. When the ship dropped down 
the Chesapeake to the British fleet, 
Admiral Cockburn was preparing for 
the expedition against Baltimore. Key 
preferred his request for his friend's 
release, and was informed that Dr. 
Beanes would have been strung up on 
a yardarm but for his courtesy as a 


host, and the fact, which had been as- 
certained since he had been appre- 
hended, that several British officers 
wounded at Bladensburg had been 
skilfully treated by him. He would be 
released, but neither he nor Key would 
be allowed to return to Baltimore, be- 
cause of a certain important event 
then impending. This of course was 
the projected attack on the city, of 
which Admiral Cockburn did not wish 
its defenders forewarned. Accordingly 
the three Americans were for the 
time placed on board H. M. S. Sur- 
prise. Key was informed that as soon 
as the fleet reached its destination, 
only a few hours would elapse before 
he would be allowed to land, for Ad- 
miral Cockburn considered that the 
reduction of Fort McHenry, by which 
Baltimore was defended, would be an 
easy matter. He little knew that the 
attack was destined to become fa- 
mous in American history for an en- 
tirely different reason. 

The fleet moved up the Chesapeake 
and at North Point disembarked the 
military forces for the land attack 
on the city. On Tuesday morning, 
September 13, 1814, the British war- 
ships in semi-circular battle forma- 
tion ranged themselves across the Pa- 
tapsco, at a distance of about two 
and a half miles off the fort, which, 
although a small affair of brick and 
earth, lay low and squat like a bull- 
dog on guard, on a projecting point of 
land. When the fleet had formed for 
the attack, the three Americans were 
allowed to go aboard their own ves- 
sel, but were not permitted to land. 

The British ships would have been 
well within range of modern ordnance, 
but the 42-pounders with which the 
fort was armed in 1814 could not reach 
the fleet, so that the Americans were 
unable to reply to the bombardment 
that lasted from Tuesday morning un- 
til after the following midnight. Key, 
who from his residence in Georgetown 


had seen less than a month before the 
light of the burning buildings in Wash- 
ington, knew the fate in store for Balti- 
more if the attack succeeded, and the 
feelings with which the three Ameri- 
cans from the deck of their vessel 
watched the bombardment may well 
be imagined. Moreover Key had a deep 
personal concern in the result. The fort 
was defended by a small force of re- 
gulars supplemented by volunteer ar- 
tillerists, the latter under command of 
Judge Nicholson, who was Key's bro- 

The strain upon the three Americans 
who followed the bombardment from 
the deck of their cartel was tremen- 
dous. To them the little fort subjected 
to attack both from land and water, 
and unable to reply to the fire of the 
fleet, seemed doomed, and with it the 
city itself. But at sunset the flag still 
waved from the ramparts. Sleep was 
out of the question. It was driven from 
their minds not only by the noise of 

Ci^e ^tar^^pangleP ^Banner 

the bursting bombs, but also by the 
tension to which they were subjected. 
Would the flag upon which their eyes 
had rested at the last gleam of twi- 
light, still fling its stars and stripes to 
the morning air, or would the fort have 
surrendered? These questions forced 
themselves upon Key and his com- 
panions as they paced the deck. 

After midnight there was a cessation 
of firing. An hour later it was renewed 
with terrific force and at closer quar- 
ters. Toward dawn it ceased. Had the 
fort been demolished, or the enemy 
driven back? So long as the firing con- 
tinued it was evident that the Ameri- 
cans were holding out. But now the 
suspense was terrible. At dawn vapors 
still shrouded the shore from the 
straining eyes of the three Americans ; 
but at seven o'clock a rift disclosed 
the flag still proudly floating above 
the ramparts. The attack had failed. 

This was the supreme moment. 
Thrilled by it, Key drew a letter from 


jfamoug amertcan ^ottj^ 

his pocket and on the back of it wrote 
the first stanza of his immortal poem. 
He himself was not aware of just 
what had happened. All he knew was 
that the flag "was still there." But 
soon after midnight Admiral Cockburn 
had received word that the land at- 
tack on the fort had been repulsed and 
Ross killed, and that, unless the works 
could be reduced by the fleet, the ex- 
pedition would end in failure. This ac- 
counted for the fierce bombardment 
at close quarters which had begun at 
one o'clock in the morning and in 
which sixteen British frigates with a 
full complement of bomb-ketches and 
barges had taken part. The crisis was 
reached when a portion of the enemy's 
forces attempted to steal up the north 
channel to the city. They passed the 
fort unnoticed, and believing their ruse 
successful began cheering derisively. 
But they made the mistake of cele- 
brating their expected triumph too 
soon. The cheers disclosed their pur- 



pose to the gunners of a small water 
battery at what is known as the Laza- 
retto, who promptly opened fire and 
put the enemy out of action. 

In the boat which took him ashore 
Key finished the poem, and that night, 
at a hotel in Baltimore, he revised it, 
making a few changes which left it 
substantially as it now is. The fol- 
lowing morning he showed it to his 
brother-in-law. Judge Joseph Hopper 
Nicholson, whose appreciation of the 
sentiments that breathe through the 
lines was all the keener because he had 
been one of the defenders of the fort. 
Nicholson at once took it to the office 
of Benjamin Edes, printer, where it 
was set up in the form of a handbill by 
an apprentice named Samuel Sands, 
all the men in the printing-office hav- 
ing volunteered for the defence of the 
fort and not yet having returned to 

On the handbill the poem was sur- 
rounded by an elliptical border out- 


ifamoug amet(can ^ongg 

side of which "Bombardment of Fort 
McHenry" was printed as a title, and, 
in the ellipsis, "Written by Francis 
Scott Key, of Georgetown, D. C." In 
reading over the poem Judge Nichol- 
son perceived that the tune of the old 
English drinking-song, "Anacreon in 
Heaven," which had been used before 
in this country as a setting for the pa- 
triotic song "Adams and Liberty,'* 
was well adapted to the metre of "The 
Star-Spangled Banner," and he indi- 
cated the tune on the handbill. These 
facts, of which I have been apprised 
through the courtesy of Mrs. Edward 
Shippen, of Baltimore, who is a grand- 
daughter of Judge Nicholson and a 
grandniece of Key, and who owns a 
copy of the first handbill as well as the 
original manuscript of the poem, dis- 
poses of the claim that Ferdinand Du- 
rang, an actor at the Holiday Street 
Theatre, Baltimore, suggested the 
tune of "Anacreon" for Key's poem, 
although it is not unlikely that he was 

the first person to sing it publicly from 
the stage of that theatre. 

The original manuscript, written on 
the back of an unsigned letter, shows 
how few were the changes which Key 
found it necessary to make in the poem 
he wrote under the inspiration of that 
thrilling moment when he saw the 
flag of his country still waving over 
Fort McHenry. In the first stanza 
there is a change of only one word. 
He had written ** through" instead of 
"by the dawn's early light." In the 
third stanza he had started to write, 
"They have washed out with blood," 
&c. This he changed to read, "Their 
blood has wash'd out their foul foot- 
steps' pollution." 

About 1840 Key made some manu- 
script copies of the poem, and then in- 
troduced a few minor changes. But 
as corrected in the original in Mrs. 
Shippen's possession, and here repro- 
duced with her permission, it reads as 


ifamou0 american ^ongjs 

O say can you see by the dawn's early light 
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleam- 

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous 
O'er the ramparts we watch'd were so gallantly stream- 
And the rocket's red glare, the bomb bursting in air 
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still 
O say does the star-spangled banner still wiave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? 

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep, 

Where the foe's haughty host in deep silence reposes. 
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, 
As it fitfully blows half conceals, half discloses ? 
Now^ it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, 
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream. 
'T is the star-spanglsd banner — O long may it wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave 1 

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore 
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion 
A home and a Country should leave us no more? 
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution. 
No refuge could save the hireling and slave 
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the g^rave. 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand 

Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation I 
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the Heav'n-rescued land 
Praise the power that hath made and preseiVd us a na- 

Ci^e ^tar-'^pangleD Banner 

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, 
And this be our motto : "In God is our trust." 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

After the Spanish War, when it be- 
came known that England had held 
out against a proposed European co- 
alition the obj ect of which was to bring 
pressure upon us to prevent our going 
to war, the old spirit of hostility to- 
ward our mother country vanished, 
and a ** blood is thicker than water" 
sentiment, which seems to be endur- 
ing, happily was substituted for the 
old-time rancor. This led to the drop- 
ping of the spirited third stanza, in 
which Key anathematizes the Eng- 
lish, from some of the common school 
readers. This fact lately having come 
to public notice has roused much re- 
sentment, and it is likely that Key's 
poem will be restored to its original 
form by legislative enactment through- 
out the country. The trouble really 
dates back farther than the Spanish 


jTamoujS American ^ongg 

War, for the original emasculator of 
"The Star-Spangled Banner" was, 
curiously enough, that good Ameri- 
can, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who, in 
1866, interpolated stanzas referring to 
the Civil War and its outcome. This 
version found its way into many school 
readers, with the odd result that, in 
1903, some Confederate veterans at- 
tending a school celebration in New 
Orleans were astounded, when the ex- 
ercises opened with the singing of 
"The Star-Spangled Banner," to hear 
themselves execrated by their own 
grandchildren for the part they had 
played in the great struggle. As the 
result of a protest from the United 
Confederate Veterans, at least one 
publishing house went to an expense 
of about six thousand dollars to issue 
a new edition of its school readers 
without the Holmes stanzas. The 
trouble was, however, that the original 
third stanza, for which Holmes' lines 
hadbeensubstituted, was not restored. 

In all respects Francis Scott Key 
was worthy of the honor which "The 
Star-Spangled Banner" has brought 
to his name. He not only was a man 
of great personal charm, he bore an un- 
blemished reputation. That frequently 
misapplied term "an ideal Christian 
gentleman" appears to have fitted him 
to perfection. He was a gentleman by 
birth and breeding, and a Christian 
both in his faith and his conduct. It 
was through his influence that John 
Randolph, who had become inocu- 
lated with the doctrines of Voltaire 
and his followers, turned back to his 
old belief. "Were I Premier," wrote 
Randolph to Key, " I certainly should 
translate you to the See of Canter- 

Key was born in Frederick County, 
Maryland, in August, 1780. He died at 
Baltimore on January 11, 1843. A rem- 
nant of the flag which thrilled his vi- 
sion on that memorable morning in 
September, 1814, still exists. It is thirty- 


two feet in length by twenty-nine feet 
in the hoist. It is believed originally to 
have been at least forty feet long and 
thirty feet in the hoist. Its great size 
is accounted for by the fact that it had 
fifteen stripes, each nearly two feet 
wide, with fifteen five-pointed stars, 
each two feet from point to point. In 
those days a stripe, as well as a star, 
was added to the flag for each new 
state. Later it was seen that the flag 
would become unwieldy if the number 
of stripes was further increased, and 
thirteen, the number of the original 
states, was fixed upon as the limit. 
The Fort McHenry flag was made 
by Mrs. Mary Pickersgill, whose mo- 
ther, Rebecca Young, made the first 
flag of the American Revolution under 
Washington's direction. Mrs. Pick- 
ersgill took care to have the top- 
ping of the flag especially strong, and 
doubtless it was due to this precaution 
that, although a bomb and a fragment 
of another passed through the flag, it 


was not torn from the staff. The hole 
and the rent can be seen in the part 
of the star-spangled banner still in ex- 
istence and said to be in the posses- 
sion of a descendant of the gallant 
Armistead who commanded the gar- 

Key's song immediately became pop- 
ular. Within a few months after the 
bombardment of Fort McHenry it was 
played by one of the bands at the 
battle of New Orleans. It has thrilled 
the American soldier and sailor on 
many an historic occasion. It figured 
too in the tragedy at Apea, Samoa. 
When the Trenton, herself doomed 
and at the mercy of the hurricane, bore 
down upon the stranded Vandalia, a 
burst of music was heard through the 
darkness and above the storm. 'Twas 
the band on the wave-swept deck of 
the flagship playing the "The Star- 
Spangled Banner"! 

No other nation possesses so noble 
an apostrophe to the flag. It is neither 


jfamou{si american ^onggi 

boastful nor vindictive. It breathes the 
most exalted spirit of patriotism, but 
it also appeals to justice and to the 
Power above. For it is the work of a 
man who loved his country and, no less, 
his God. 


ganfeee ©ooDle 
l^ail Columbia and amettca 




^^l^afl Columbia" and ^^ametica" 

jalsehoods probably 
have been written about 
"Yankee Doodle" than a- 
bout any other song. It has 
been said that the tune originally was 
known as "Fisher's Jig," named after 
Kitty Fisher, "abeauty of Charles II's 
time," and that it is to be found in 
Walsh's "Collection of Dances," for 
1750. Unfortunately Kitty Fischer (not 
Fisher) was not a beau ty of Charles 11 's 
time. The only Kitty Fischer who was 
at all a public character was married 
in 1766 to a Mr. Norris, and died in 
1771, probably, from what is known 
about her, of sudden respectability. 
There is no "Fisher's Jig" in Walsh's 
book nor any other tune resembling 
"Yankee Doodle." 
, Still more remarkable is the attribu- 


tion of Dutch origin. It is claimed that 
the harvesters in Holland received in 
payment for their labor a share of the 
grain they harvested and as much 
buttermilk as they could drink; and 
that they voiced their joy in these 
words, sung to the tune of "Yankee 

Yanker, dudel, doodle down, 

Diddle, dudel, lanther, 
Yanke viver, voover vown, 

Boter milk and tanther. 

But these words are neither Dutch, 
Hiftdustanee ^ler-Ghoctaw — -m_jiajc± 
belong to no language whatever, net 
even-Vola^uk. The claim is a hoax, 
yet has gravely been incorporated into 
at least one encyclopaedia and several 

Another claim made is that in Crom- 
well's day the Cavaliers sang, 

Nankee Doodle came to town, 

On a little pony. 
He stuck a feather in his cap, 

And called him Macaroni 

"Nankee Doodle" is supposed to have 

panftee J^ootile, etc* 

been Cromwell, and " Macaroni" a de- 
risive reference to his "single white 
plume." But the Lord Protector is not 
known to have worn a single white 
plume, while Macaroni, as a derisive 
sobriquet, was not in use in England 
until about the middle of the eigh- 
teenth century, when it was applied 
to the fops of the so-called "maca- 
roni"clubs, —-"composed," writes Wal- 
pole, "of all the travelled young men 
who wear long curls and spying 

Attempts to derive it from Spain and 
Hungary are unworthy the consider- 
ation of any one who is at all familiar 
with the musical characteristics of 
those countries. In fact, about the only 
certain thing concerning the tune is 
that the old nursery rhyme, 

Lucy Locket lost her pocket, 

Kitty Fisher found it ; 
Not a bit of money in it, 

Only binding round it — 

was sung to it long before the vogue 


famoujj american ^ongjs 

of the ''Yankee Doodle" words in 

Even that standard authority, Grove, 
makes a manifold error in attempting 
to give the first reference in print to 
''Yankee Doodle." It is not the eariiest 
reference, he assigns the passage he 
quotes to a wrong source, and he does 
not quote it with entire accuracy. 
Grove states that it appeared in the 
"Boston Journal of the Times" for 
September 29, 1768. The obvious in- 
ference from this statement is that the 
reference was published in a Boston 
newspaper, but there was none of that 
name. It was one of several captions 
used as headlines to Boston corre- 
spondence published in the " New York 
Journal;" but as a matter of fact the 
headline under which the reference 
to "Yankee Doodle" appeared was 
"Journal of Transactions in Boston." 
The Boston date-line is as above, but 
it was not published until October 13, 
1768, in the "New York Journal:" 

^ani^ee J^ooDle^ etc» 

"The Fleet was brought to Anchor 
near Castle William, that Evening 
there was throwing of Sky Rockets, 
and those passing in Boats observed 
great Rejoicings, and that the Yankey 
Doodle Song was the Capital Piece in 
their Band of Music." 
The reference was run to earth 
by Mr. Albert Matthews of Boston, 
whose brilliant researches regarding 
the word Yankee and the "Yankee 
Doodle" song are well known to all 
students of Americana. In this in- 
stance he had the valuable assistance 
of Mr. Wilberforce Eames, of the New 
York Public Library. Moreover, Mr. 
Matthews has discovered an earlier 
reference to "Yankee Doodle" in a 
comic opera, "The Disappointment: 
Or, the Force of Credulity," by Andrew 
Barton, in which one of the airs is 
entitled "Yankee Doodle." The book 
was published in New York in 1767, 
and a copy of it is in the Ridgway 
Branch of the Philadelphia Library. 


!Jfamou0 american ^ongjS 

Although the tune was an old one 
even^%^; ^its first appearance as 
printed music was considerably later, 
and not in this country, but in Scot- 
land and England. It is found in an 
issue of musical selections brought 
out by Aird in Glasgow, supposedly 
in 1782. The first instance of the 
printed tune, the date of which can be 
fixed with certainty, is in the score of 
"Two to One," a musical stage piece 
by the prolific, but now almost forgot- 
ten English composer, Samuel Arnold 
(ttot^rne~as some accounts give k), 
and that was not until 1784. Yet it had 
been sung and marched to by the "old 
Continentals in their ragged regimen- 
tals" during the American Revolu- 

The origin of its vogue in this coun- 
try rests on tradition, for which it may 
be said, however, that the tradition is 
not wholly unreasonable. In 1755, dur- 
ing the war with the French and In- 
dians, General Amherst was in com- 

ganfiee J^ooDle^ etc. 

mand of a force of regulars and Colo- 
nials near Albany. The Colonial troops, 
arriving from various localities, in mot- 
ley uniforms or none at all, and an 
equipment which it would be mild to 
describe as "assorted," excited the 
ridicule of the regulars. With the forces 
was a Dr. Richard Schuckburg, a sur- 
geon, whose appointment as Secre- 
tary of Indian Affairs by Sir William 
Johnson in 1760, is recorded in the 
New York State papers. As a joke 
upon the motley Colonial contingent, 
Dr. Schuckburg called the attention 
of its officers to the old nursery tune 
which, he assured them, was a cele- 
brated piece of martial music in Eng- 
land. To the vast amusement of the 
British regulars, the Colonials took to 
the air at once, pronounced it "'nation 
fine" and soon were singing words to 
it of which the jocose doctor probably 
was the author. 
He little knew the ball he had started 
rolling. The American does not object 


famous american ^ongjs 

to fun at his own expense so long as 
it is good-natured, and the Colonials 
were quick to recogn ize the h umor o f 
the doggerel verses.|fThere are^ fifteen 
stanzas to "Yankee Doodle," the ori- 
ginal title of which is "The Yankee's 
Return from Camp," the whole being 
a description of a young hayseed's 
visit to the soldiers and what he saw 
there, until he scampered home in 
fright because some of them told him 
that a trench they were digging was 
intended for his grave. 


Father and I went down to camp, 

Along with Captain Gooding ; 
There we see the men and boys 
As thick as hasty-pudding. 

Yankee doodle, keep it up, 

Yankee doodle dandy ; 
Mind the music and the step, 
And with the girls be handy. 

And there we saw a thousand men, 

As rich as Squire David ; 
And what they wasted ev'ry day 

I wish it could be sav^d. 

ganfiee j^ooDle^ etc. 

The 'lasses they eat ev'ry day 
Would keep a house all winter ; 

They have as much that I '11 be bound 
They eat it when they 're a mind to. 

And there we saw a swamping gun, 

Large a as log of maple, 
Upon a deuced Httle cart — 

A load for father's cattle. 

And every time they shoot it off 
It takes a horn of powder ; 

It makes a noise like father's g^. 
Only a nation louder. 

I went as nigh to one myself 

As 'Siah's under-pinning ; 
And father went as nigh again — 

I thought the deuce was in him. 

Cousin Simon grew so bold, 
I thought he would have cocked it ; 

It scared me so, I streaked it o£f, 
And hung by father's pocket 

But Captain Davis had a gun, 
He kind of clapped his hand on 't ; 

He stuck a crooked stabbing iron 
Upon a little end on 't. 

And there I see a pumkin shell 

As big as mother's basin, 
And ev'ry time they touched it off 

They scampered like the nation. 

I see a little barrel, too, 
The heads were made of leather, 

famous american ^ongg 

They knocked upon it with little clubs, 
And called the folks together. 

And there was Captain Washington, 

The gentlefolks about him ; 
They say he 's grown so tarnal proud 

He will not ride without 'em. 

He got him on his meeting clothes, 

Upon a slapping stallion ; 
He set the world along in rows, 

In hundreds and in millions. 

The flaming ribbons in their hats, 
They looked so tearing fine, ah ; 

I wanted plag^ily to get. 
To give to my Jemima. 

I see another snarl of men, 
A-digging graves, they told me, 

So tarnal long, so tarnal deep, 
They 'tended they should hold me. 

It scared me so, I hooked it off. 

Nor stopped as I remember ; 
Nor turned about till I got home. 

Locked up in mother's chamber. 

Other verses are to be found, such as 

Yankee Doodle came to tovim 

Wearing leather trousers ; 
He said he could n't see the town, 

There were so many houses. 


ganfeee J^ooDle, etc* 

and these lines, which were sung by 
the_Eritish troops: 

Yankee Doodle came to town 

For to buy a firelock, 
We will tar and feather him, 
. And so we will John Hancock. 

Oddly enough the most generally 
known words in this country seem to 
be the "macaroni" lines, which, as I 
have stated, some people have en- 
deavored to refer back to Cromwell's 
It has been said of the words to 
"Yankee Doodle" that they never will 
suffer from editing, as Shakespeare 
has, because they could not be worse. 
Nevertheless, ill-rhymed as they are, 
they have a rollicking spirit, and they 
describe inimitably the goings-on at 
a poorly disciplined militia camp, such 
as that near Albany in 1755 doubtless 
was, and such as many militia camps 
have been since and still may be, as 
they were in the old "training days." 
Moreover, the tune is brisk and catchy 


(famous american ^ongis 

and the refrain has a verve that swings 
the whole thing along. Words and 
music together appealed irresistibly 
to the agile, frolicsome American 
mind and sense of humor. ^'Yankee 
Doodle" became the marching song, 
the "Malbroucks'en va-t-en guerre," 
of the American Revolution. Given to 
the Americans in derision, it was in 
a derisive sense the bands of Lord 
Percy's troops played it when they 
advanced to the battle of Lexington 
— after which the laugh was with the 
Americans, and the air became known 
for a while as the " Lexington March." 
It is proper to state that Mr. Math- 
ews does not regard the "Yankee 
Doodle" words as of earlier than Re- 
j^utionary origin. 
The music of "Yankee Doodle " has 
appealed to at least two musicians 
of the highest standing. When Ru- 
binstein was here for the first time 
(1872-3), he composed a set of varia- 
tions on the air and played it at his 

ganfiee H^oohlt, etc* 

last concert. Paderewski began writ- 
ing a fantasy on ** Yankee Doodle" 
and intended dedicating it to William 
Mason, telling the latter that he 
greatly liked the tune. Mason found 
the fantasy capital, as far as it had 
been composed. But the Rubinstein 
variations already had been dedi- 
cated to him, and when he told this 
to Paderewski, and also informed him 
that, strictly speaking, " Yankee Doo- 
dle" is not a national air in the same 
sense as "God save the King" is with 
the English, the Polish musician was 
dissuaded from his purpose and did 
not finish the fantasy. ^s^^ 

What is regarded as the first genu?^ 
inely comic poem— comic as distin- 
guished from mere doggerel — pro- 
duced in this country was written to 
the tune of "Yankee Doodle." This 
was Francis Hopkinson's " Battle of 
the Kegs." In 1777 David Bushnell, a 
Connecticut Yankee, attempted to 
blow up the British fleet, then lying 


at Philadelphia, by floating down the 
river kegs filled with powder and fit- 
ted with spring locks. One of the kegs 
exploded prematurely, and the British 
soldiers on shore, in great flurry and 
alarm, opened fire on the strange 

From morn to night these men of might 

Displayed amazing courage ; 
And when the sun was fairly down, 

Retired to sup their porridge. 

Various attempts have been made to 
substitute stanzas of a more literary 
quality for the original words of "Yan- 
kee Doodle." George P. Morris, the 
associate of N. P. Willis, was among 
those who wrote new words. But al- 
though his "improved" lines were 
sung by the famous Hutchinson family, 
they never supplanted the ill-rhymed 
burlesque which the Colonials or Mi- 
nute-Men, or both, had pronounced 
" ' nation fine," and which may be called 
our national "Mother Goose," the 
nursery rhyme of the American army. 

Bfl^l^HRr C" ^^^I^SBBKllilifc -^1 




From the painting by A. M. Willard 

panfiee J^ooDle^ etc. 

In 1876 there was exhibited at the 
Centennial in Philadelphia a paint- 
ing entitled "The Spirit of '76, or 
Yankee Doodle." While imperfect 
technically, it was executed with such 
evident dramatic power that it made 
a deep impression, and since has be- 
come well known through frequent 
reproduction. A grim old man, his 
features sharp as an eagle's, is beat- 
ing the drum. On his left a younger 
man is playing the fife. On the right 
a boy, also drumming, is looking up 
earnestly into the old man's face. The 
three are marching along as if borne 
forward by an irresistible force. Be- 
hind them an American flag is un- 
furled to the breeze and soldiers are 
following. In the foreground a dying 
soldier is cheering them with his last 
voice. The whole, in its bold outlines, 
portrays the spirit of daring and sac- 
rifice on the part of old, middle-aged 
and young, which fought and won the 
American Revolution. This "Yankee 


jfamoujs amerfcan Rongji 

Doodle" picture shows one side of 
the "Yankee Doodle" song, which, 
although doggerel, was a war-song. 
After the Centennial the painting 
was bought by General John Deve- 
reux, of Cleveland, Ohio, and pre- 
sented by him to his native town of 
Marblehead, Massachusetts, where it 
hangs in the reading-room of Abbot 
Hall. It was painted by Archibald M. 
Willard of Cleveland. 

Often it is said that the Austrian 
national hymn, "Gott erhalte Franz 
den Kaiser," which was composed 
by Haydn, is the only known instance 
of the deliberate composition of an 
air which, intended to be national, 
really became so through popular ac- 
claim. But we have a patriotic song 
which is popular enough to be called 
national and which appears to have 
been written with as much delibera- 
tion as Haydn's anthem. It was in 
fact written to be sung from the stage, 

panUt JBooDle^ tic. 

and had its first hearing at an actor's 
benefit. This benefit took place in 
Philadelphia, then the seat of the 
United States government, in April, 
1798, and the actor concerned in it 
was one Gilbert Fox. A few days 
prior to the performance, the sale of 
seats having been slack. Fox taxed 
his brains in an effort to devise means 
to bring the receipts up to a point 
where they would show some profit 
* instead of, as then, a heavy loss. War 
was in the air. There was severe ten- 
sion between France and England, 
and in our own country, one party 
was in favor of aiding France in the 
impending struggle, another of siding 
with England, and excitement here 
ran high, there being much bitterness 
between the opposing factions. With 
an eye to his opportunity. Fox con- 
cluded that conditions were just right 
for a new patriotic song, and know- 
ing a brilliant young lawyer, Joseph 
Hopkinson, a son of Francis Hopkin- 


famous American ^ongg 

son, author of "The Battle of the 
Kegs," he carried his idea to him. 
Hopkinson promptly agreed to write 
the song, and did so, using the tune 
of the "President's March." That is 
the origin of "Hail, Columbia." 


Hail, Columbia 1 happy land ! 
Hail, ye heroes 1 heaven-born band 1 

Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause. 

Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause, 
And when the storm of war was gone, 
Enjoyed the peace your valor won. 

Let independence be our boast, 

Ever mindful what it cost ; 

Ever grateful for the prize. 

Let its altar reach the skies. 

Firm, united, let us be. 
Rallying round our Liberty ; 
As a band of brothers joined. 
Peace and safety we shall find. 

Immortal patriots ! rise once more : 
Defend your rights, defend your shore : 

Let no rude foe, with impious hand. 

Let no rude foe, vrith impious hand. 
Invade the shrine where sacred lies 
Of toil and blood the well-earned prize. 

While offering peace sincere and just, 

In Heaven we place a manly trust. 

That truth and justice will prevail. 

And every scheme of bondage fail. 


F^- 'C 



W^^ . ,:a;-A 


'ff - « 


^HsL^^ 1 





^ ^^^^ 












^^^^^^^KSr ^ ^9 











ganfiee ©ooDle^ etc* 

Sound, sound, the trump of Fame ! 

Let WASHINGTON'S great name 
Ring through the world with loud applause. 
Ring through the world with loud applause ; 

Let every clime to Freedom dear, 

Listen with a joyful ear. 
With equal skill, and godlike power, 
He governed in the fearful hour 
Of horrid war ; or guides, with ease, 
The happier times of honest peace. 

Behold the chief who now commands. 
Once more to serve his country, stands 
The rock on which the storm will beat. 
The rock on which the storm will beat ; 
But, armed in virtue firm and true. 
His hopes are fixed on Heaven and you. 
When hope was sinking in dismay. 
And glooms obscured Columbia's day, 
His steady mind, from changes free, 
Resolved on death or liberty. 

Fox's announcement that a new pa- 
triotic song would be heard at his 
benefit packed the house. The song 
itself was an immense success. It 
was encored many times, and at the 
end every one in the house caught it 
up and joined in singing it. People 
recognized that it favored neither the 
French nor the English partisans, 
but was written in a spirit of broad, 


jTamoug ametfcan ^otij^ 

self-reliant patriotism according to 
which this country and its own inter- 
ests were sufficient unto themselves 
without foreign entanglements. It is 
difficult for us from this distance in 
time to form an idea of the effect pro- 
duced by the song, but it did much 
to allay partisan excitement and to 
prevent the United States from med- 
dling in foreign affairs. Doubtless 
President Adams's appreciation of this 
was his reason for seeking to coun- 
tenance and even add to its vogue by 
attending the theatre with his entire 
cabinet, especially to hear the song a 
few nights after its first presentation. 
The play in which Fox appeared at 
his benefit was "The Italian Monk." 
This circumstance has led Louis C. 
Elson, a critic whose scholarship is 
seasoned with wit, to remark, with 
reference to the popularity of "Hail, 
Columbia," that having first been 
heard in connection with "The Italian 
Monk," it still continues to be heard 

ganfeee ?^ooDle^ etc* 

in connection with the Italian and 
his monkey." 

Regarding the tune to which "Hail 
Columbia" is sung, the "President's 
March" was a very popular air and a 
capital selection. It is attributed to 
various composers, most persistently, 
perhaps, to a German-American mu- 
sician named Roth, who resided in 
Philadelphia and is said to have com- 
posed the march for Washington's 
first inauguration, it being played for 
the first time in Trenton as Wash- 
ington passed through there on his 
way to New York. But Mr. Oscar G. 
Sonneck, the learned head of the 
music department of the Library of 
Congress, who has carefully investi- 
gated this subject, states that the 
composer of the march cannot be 
named with any degree of certainty. 

At a reunion of the Harvard class of 
1829, Oliver Wendell Holmes read a 


poem in which he devoted several 
lines to each of his classmates. Two 
of the verses ran as follows : 

And there 's a fine youngster of excellent pith, 
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith. 

That Fate did not, however, succeed 
in its fell design, appears from further 
remarks made by the genial "Auto- 
crat " sixty-five years after graduation. 
"Now there's Smith," said Dr. Holmes 
in 1894. "His name will be honored 
by every school child in the land when 
I have been forgotten a hundredyears. 
He wrote *My country, 'tis of thee.' 
Now if he had said 'Our country' the 
hymn would never have been immor- 
tal, but that 'My' was a master- 
stroke. Every one who sings the hymn 
at once feels a personal ownership in 
his native land. The hymn will last as 
long as the country." 
Another distinguished American has 
had something to say about the hymn 
which brought the young gentleman 
whom Fate tried to conceal "by nam- 

ganfeee ©ooDle, etc* 

ing him Smith" into the open. Edward 
Everett Hale relates that on the 
Fourth of July, 1832, when he was ten 
years old, he had spent all his holiday 
money on root-beer, ginger-snaps and 
oysters at the celebration on Boston 
Common, and was on his way home 
when he saw a long line of children 
marchingintothe Park Street Church. 
He joined them, and during the exer- 
cises in the church, heard a new hymn, 
beginning "My country, 'tis of thee," 
rendered by five hundred voices. Thus 
by the merest chance, and because his 
money had been expended so rapidly, 
he was present at the first singing of 
the hymn which is national enough to 
be called "America." 
It had been written in February of 
the same year by Samuel Francis 
Smith, who, having graduated from 
Harvard, was then a divinity student 
at Andover. As has been the case with 
so many other songs that have become 
popular, the circumstances under 


which ** America" was written were 
due to chance. If a friend of Lowell 
Mason's had not brought him a collec- 
tion of German melodies from abroad, 
and if Mason had not turned over the 
book to the young divinity student 
with the remark that he would be 
glad to see any translations from the 
German words which the latter chose 
to make, Smith simply would have 
remained one of the Smiths and Fate 
would have had its way. As he turned 
over the leaves, however, he came to 
the air of "God save the King," and, 
struck with it, glanced at the German 
words at the foot of the page. Under 
the inspiration of the moment he 
wrote in half an hour, and on a scrap 
of paper which he picked up from the 
table, not a translation but an entirely 
original English, or rather American, 
set of words. 

"America" as it appears in the hym- 
nals to-day is substantially the same 
as it was penned by the Andover di- 


ganfeee ©ootile^ etc* 

vinity student in that brief half hour 
of February, 1832. 


My country, 'tis of thee, 
Sweet land of Liberty, 

Of thee I sing ; 
Land where my fathers died ; 
Land of the pilgrims' pride ; 
From every mountain side 

Let freedom ring. 

My native country ! thee, 
Lsmd of the noble free, 

Thy name I love ; 
I love thy rocks and rills, 
Thy woods and templed hills, 
My heart with rapture thrills 

Like that above. 

Let music swell the breeze, 
And ring from all the trees 

Sweet freedom's song ; 
Let mortal tongues awake, 
Let all that breathe partake. 
Let rocks their silence break, 

The sound prolong. 

Our fathers' God I to thee. 
Author of liberty I 

To thee we sing ; 
Long may our land be bright 
With freedom's holy light, 
Protect us by thy might. 

Great God, our King 1 


jfamoug american ^ongg 

At the celebration of the Washing- 
ton Inauguration Centennial, the fol- 
lowing verse was added, it is believed, 
by the author: 

Our joyful hearts to-day, 
Their grateful tribute pay, 

Happy and free. 
After our toils and fears, 
After our blood and tears, 
Strong with our hundred years, 

O God, to thee. 

Smith was born in Boston in Octo- 
ber, 1808, so that he was only twenty- 
three years old when he wrote his 
famous hymn. He lived to be over 
eighty-seven, was a pastor, teacher 
and editor, and the author of other 
metrical pieces besides *' America;" 
but no other inspiration equal to that 
chance one which resulted in "My 
country, 'tis of thee," came to him 
during those long years of faithful 
service. When we consider, however, 
that many men of far more distin- 
guished talents wait in vain for Fate 
to "strike twelve" we may conclude 

ganfiee J^ootile^ etc* 

that he was an exceptionally lucky 
man to have heard it strike for him 
that once. 

Of the three patriotic songs which, 
next to "The Star-Spangled Banner," 
are best known, one, " Yankee Doo- 
dle," dates from Colonial days and is 
an ante- Revolutionary relic— was, in 
fact, a national air before we were a 
nation. It is wholly English in origin, 
but its humor is genuinely American, 
and it turned the tables neatly against 
the very ones who produced it in a 
spirit of derision. "Hail, Columbia" 
sprang wholly from American soil. 
"America" was written by a son of 
Massachusetts, but its tune is Eng- 
lish. Nevertheless, it was for many 
years our national anthem and only 
lately has been supplanted by "The 
Star-Spangled Banner." The unfurl- 
ing of our flag over distant islands of 
the Pacific has appealed to popular 
imagination which, rightly or wrongly, 


sees in that flag the symbol of our 
prosperity, our valor and our liberty. 
Yet one of our best marches is based 
on a combination of "Yankee Doo- 
dle" and "The Star-Spangled Ban- 
ner," — Mother Goose and Old Glory,— 
which shows that, while the Consti- 
tution may not always follow the flag, 
our irrepressible sense of humor does. 


^ome max ^ong^ 


g)ome azaar ^ongg 

HE Civil War inspired many 
songs, most of which, how- 
ever, were ephemeral. Oddly 
enough the "John Brown 
Song," which was the great marching 
song of the Northern armies and was 
sung many years later by Kitchener's 
soldiers in the Soudan and by Ro- 
berts's troops in South Africa, was 
discarded by our own men in the Span- 
ish War for a popular tune of the day, 
"There'll be a hot Time in the old 
Town to-night," which may have 
seemed to them more appropriate to 
the occasion —and to the temperature. 
There are two curious circumstances 
connected with the origin of the "John 
Brown Song." Just as "Dixie," the 
most popular song of the South, was 
the work of a Northerner, so the great 
Northern marching song was of South- 
ern origin, being an old camp-meet- 


ing hymn-tune. Moreover, while al- 
most universally supposed to have 
originated in a grim tribute to the fa- 
mous John Brown, of Ossawatomie, as 
if the soul, liberated from the body that 
swung at Harper's Ferry, were march- 
ing with the Federal armies, the song, 
in the beginning, referred to an en- 
tirely different John Brown. The words 
were the outcome of an effort on the 
part of members of a company of 
the Twelfth Massachusetts Infantry, 
which soon after the outbreak of the 
war was quartered at Fort Warren, 
Boston, to make sport of one of 
their comrades, a comical Scotchman 
named John Brown. However this may 
be, and it is vouched for on excellent 
authority, the regiment no doubt was 
the first to sing the song. As it marched 
to the front across Boston Common 
and afterwards down Broadway, New 
York, the "John Brown Song" rever- 
berating from a thousand voices, words 
and music were caught up by the mul- 


^ome OCIat ^ongjs 

titudes that lined the sidewalks, win- 
dows and roofs, and spread like wild- 
fire from city to city, from camp to 
camp, from regiment to brigade, from 
brigade to division, from division to 
corps. Even before the regiment left 
Fort Warren, its officers, little real- 
izing that the song was destined to 
become associated in the public mind 
with the famous John Brown and to 
achieve a vogue that was simply mar- 
vellous, had sought to have the troops 
change the name to Ellsworth, in 
memory of Colonel E. E. Ellsworth, 
the first commissioned officer killed in 
the war. But the attempt was vain. 
Simple "John Brown" suited the sol- 
diers better, and when the song was 
published at Charlestown, Massa- 
chusetts, it bore the title "John Brown 
Song," and the "John Brown Song" it 
remained. In this first edition, one 
line is different from what it became 
shortly afterward. The kind of tree 
from which the threat is made to sus- 


ifamouis ametfcan ^ongjsi 

pend the president of the Confederacy 
is not specified. It simply is "a tree." 
The "sour apple tree" evidently was 
of slightly later growth, but in quoting 
the words I will make allowance for it. 


John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, 

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, 

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, 

His soul 's marching on I 

Glory Hally, Hallelujah! Glory Hally, Hallelujah 1 
Glory Hally, Hallelujah 1 

His soul's marching on. 

He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord, 

He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord, 

He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord, 

His soul's marching on 1 

John Brown's knapsack is strapped on his back, 
John Brown's knapsack is strapped on his back, 
John Brown's knapsack is strapped on his back, 
His soul's marching on I 

His pet lambs will meet him on the way, 
His pet lambs w^ill meet him on the way, 
His pet lambs v^rill meet him on the way, 
They go marching on ! 

They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree I 
They vrill hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree I 


^ome SHat: ^ongis 

They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree, 
As they march along 1 

Now, three rousing cheers for the Union ! 
Now, three rousing cheers for the Union 1 
Now, three rousing cheers for the Union 1 
As we are marching on I 

Glory Hally, Hallelujah I Glory Hally, Hallelujah I 
Glory, Hally, Hallelujah ! 

Hip, Hip, Hip, Hip, Hurrah! 

The officers at Fort Warren were not 
the only ones who failed to recognize 
that the merit of these words lay in 
their very lack of literary finish and 
in their grim simplicity, and consid- 
ered them undignified. Edna Dean 
Proctor endeavored to raise the song 
to what it would please the connois- 
seur to call a higher level, and wrote 
new words. But the "John Brown 
Song" survived the effort. In Decem- 
ber, i86i, a party which included 
James Freeman Clarke and Julia Ward 
Howe visited an outpost of the army 
in Virginia, witnessed a skirmish, and 
heard the soldiers, as they returned 


f amoug amertcan ^ongg 

to camp, singing their favorite march- 
ing song. Dr. Clarke suggested to 
Mrs. Howe that she write better words 
to go with the sturdy rhythm of the 
music. The result was the "Battle- 
Hymn of the Republic," undoubtedly 
the finest poem produced by the Civil 
War, but not destined to be consid- 
ered "better words" by the soldiers, 
who clung to their rude chant, the 
"John Brown Song." 


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the 

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of 

wrath are stored; 
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift 

sword : 

His truth is marching on. 

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred cir- 
cling camps ; 

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews 
and damps ; 

I can read his righteous sentence by the dim and flar- 
ing lamps. 
His day is marching on. 


PhotuKraph, Copyright, I'.n 
By J. E. Puray, Boston 


^ome CKHar ^ongjss 

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of 

steel : 
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace 

shall deal ; 
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with 

his heel, 
Since God is marching on." 

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call 
retreat ; 

He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judg- 
ment-seat : 

Oh ! be swift, my soul, to answer Him I be jubilant, my 
Our God is marching on. 

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the 

With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and 

me : 
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men 

While God is marching on. 

No doubt it is too sectional to have 
been sung in the Spanish War when 
North and South marched shoulder 
to shoulder once more. Yet had it 
been sung by our troops in Cuba, 
it would now be, through its use by 
the British soldiers in the Soudan and 
in South Africa, the marching song 


f amou)2i american ^ong^ 

of the Anglo-Saxon race. Although, 
apparently, there no longer is a chance 
of that, it is famous enough to make 
it worth while to quote the old camp- 
meeting hymn on which it is based. 
This hymn is said to have been sung 
as early as 1856 in colored churches 
in Charleston, South Carolina, and to 
have been parodied by a fire com- 
pany in that city. Its words are the 
simplest, and as in the ''John Brown 
Song," the first line of each stanza is 

thrice repeated. 

\ 1 


Say, brothers, will you meet us? 

Say, brothers, will you meet us? 

Say, brothers, will you meet us, 

On Canaan's happy shore ? 

By the grace of God we'll meet you, 

I / By the grace of God we '11 meet you, 
I By the grace of God we'll meet you, 
j Where parting is no more. 

Jesus lives and reigns forever, 

II Jesus lives and reigns forever, 
I Jesus lives and reigns forever, 
\ On Canaan's happy shore. 


The melody is attributed to William 

^ome mat ^ongjs 

Steffe, a composer of Methodist hymn- 

Henry Clay Work's "Marching 
through Georgia" is a Civil War song 
which seems destined to survive. The 
fact that it is reminiscent commends 
it to veterans, and of course it always 
figured at celebrations of which Sher- 
man was the central figure. The Gen- 
eral professed a great dislike for the 
tune and protested annoyance when- 
ever he heard it. He used to relate 
that one night while at a hotel abroad, 
he heard a band coming down the 
street playing the hateful tune. It 
seemed to have pursued him even into 
foreign parts. He quickly got into his 
uniform and went out on to the bal- 
cony under the impression that a sere- 
nade or welcome was to be tendered 
him. But to his surprise the band and 
its followers marched past without so 
much as any one looking up at him. 
The air is a popular one abroad— as 


ifamoujs amerfcan ^ongJJ 

General Sherman discovered from this 
incident. There is no special history 
connected with the song, and, aside 
from its genuine merit as a war song, 
the most interesting fact about it is 
the General's dislike of it,— whether 
real or, as some of his friends believe, 
pretended, — a harmless idiosyncrasy 
of a great man. 


Bring the good old bugle, boys, we'll sing another 

song — 
Sing it with a spirit that will start the world along — 
Sing it as we used to sing it, fifty thousand strong, 
While we were marching through Georgia. 

Hurrah ! Hurrah 1 we bring the jubilee ! 
Hurrah ! Hurrah 1 the flag that makes you free I 
So we sang the chorus from Atlanta to the sea, 
While we were marching through Georgia. 

How the darkeys shouted when they heard the joyful 

sound ! 
How the turkeys gobbled which our commissary found I 
How the sweet potatoes even started from the ground, 
While we were marching through Georgia. 

* By permission of The S. Brainard's Sons Co., owners of copyright 
on words and music. 


^ome mat ^ongjs 

Yes, and there were Union men who wept with joyful 

When they saw the honor'd flag they had not seen for 

years ; 
Hardly could they be restrained from breaking forth in 

While we were marching through Georgia. 

"Sherman's dashing Yankee boys will never reach the 

coast ! " 
So the saucy rebels said, and 't was a handsome boast, 
Had they not forgot, alas I to reckon with the host, 
While we were marching through Georgia. 

So we made a thoroughfare for Freedom and her train. 
Sixty miles in latitude — three hundred to the main ; 
Treason fled before us, for resistance was in vain. 
While we were marching through Georgia. 

Henry Clay Work was self-taught. 
George F. Root, who composed "The 
Battle-Cry of Freedom," "Tramp, 
tramp, tramp, the boys are march- 
ing" and "Just before the battle, mo- 
ther," was a musician of the Lowell 
Mason type, musically cultivated with- 
in the limits of the facilities offered by 
this country in his youth, with a sup- 
plement of brief study abroad, but 
with natural gifts and a rare peda- 
gogic faculty, which caused his labors 


f amoug american ^ongg 

in schools and at musical conventions 
to be of much importance in spread- 
ing a knowledge of music. His ** Bat- 
tle-Cry of Freedom" often was or- 
dered to be sung by the soldiers when 
going into battle. A curious offshoot 
from it was the adaptation of *'Mary 
had a little lamb" to the tune, the 
soldiers singing, 

Mat7 had a little lamb, 
Its fleece was white as snow ; 
And everywhere where Mary went, 
The lamb was sure to go, 

" Shouting the battle-cry of freedom ! " 

When the Civil War broke out, a 
young Marylander, named James 
Ryder Randall, was residing in New 
Orleans where he was engaged in 
newspaper work. Shortly afterwards 
he became professor of English at the 
small college of Poydras, at Pointe 
Coup6e, on the Fausse Riviere. It was 
here the news reached him, in April, 
1861, that Massachusetts troops had 
been fired upon while passing through 

^ome Mat ^on^^ 

Baltimore. He had been impatient, 
chagrined, downcast, at the refusal 
of his native state to cast its fortunes 
with the Confederacy, but in this in- 
cident he thought he discerned the 
promise that it would do so. It was 
the inspiration of this thought which 
seized upon him about midnight and 
enabled him to produce at a single 
sitting what is, next to the "Battle 
Hymn of the Republic," the finest 
poem of the Civil War, "Maryland," 
which, as sung to the air of "Lauri- 
ger Horatius" (the German folk-mel- 
ody, "O Tannenbaum"), was called by 
Alexander H. Stephens the "Mar- 
seillaise of the Confederacy." The fol- 
lowing seem to me its most spirited 
stanzas : 

Hark to thy wandering son's appeal, 

Maryland ! 
My mother state ! To thee I kneel, 

Maryland ! 
For life and death, for woe and weal, 
Thy peerless chivalry reveal, 
And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel, 

Maryland, my Maryland ! 


Thou wilt not cower in the dust, 

Maryland ! 
Thy beaming sword shall never rust, 

Maryland ! 
Remember Carroll's sacred trust, 
Remember Howard's warlike thrust. 
And all thy slumberers with the just, 

Maryland, my Maryland ! 

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll, 

Maryland ! 
Thou wilt not crook to his control, 

Maryland ! 
Better the fire upon thee roll, 
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl. 
Than crucifixion of the soul, 

Maryland, my Maryland ! 

The poem was published in the New 
Orleans "Delta," and attracted imme- 
diate attention. Miss Jennie Gary, of 
Baltimore, selected the air for the 
words, and it gained its first vogue as 
a war song when she sang it at a se- 
renade given to her and her sister 
Hetty (afterwards the wife of Profes- 
sor H. Newell Martin, of Johns Hop- 
kins University) by Maryland troops 
in Beauregard's army at Fairfax Court 
House, Virginia. The author of the 


^ome mat ^ongs 

poem, who was born in Baltimore in 
1839, is living in Augusta, Georgia. 
Among his other poems is the fine 
hymn "Resurgam." 

"If we had had your songs, you never 
would have beaten us," is the remark 
said to have been made by a Confeder- 
ate officer to a Northern one. This may 
be an exaggerated tribute to the power 
of song, but it emphasizes what is a 
fact, namely, that the war songs of 
the North had considerably more 
swing and vim to them than those of 
the South. "Dixie" and, in some es- 
sentials, "Maryland" were so unwar- 
like that they have become almost as 
popular in the North as they are in 
the South. But no song of the Civil 
War, however great its vogue then or 
since, has developed the capacity of 
a national anthem. That honor has 
been accorded to "The Star-Spangled 
Banner," in the singing of which both 
sides now happily can join. 




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